Who’s Your Daddy?

A Toby Keith song to be sure, but more importantly in today’s economy a question for you around your work and career.

Has your Daddy let you down? Are you an unemployment statistic? Were you thinking that you were immune to downturn, and that layoffs happened to other people…with less experience, tenure or value? And then, surprise, your Daddy let you down!

When you don’t own your career, when someone else makes your employment decisions, you’re giving that someone else your economic buttons. You are a child awaiting the decisions of your Daddy. And most workplace Daddies out there are practicing ‘tough love’ for the benefit of shareholders at the expense of employee-stakeholders.


Not even 20-somethings who move back home for the stability and care-taking by Mom & Dad give up as much, and they certainly aren’t ruled by fear. What is it about taking responsibility for work direction that is so heinous that people prefer to live in fear? Whether you’re inside waiting or outside looking, few employers offer any security or even stability and fear breeds fear. [And, No! I’m not encouraging everyone to become an entrepreneur; I’m encouraging you to take ownership of your career growth and direction-setting.]

Taking responsibility for your own work direction may not be easy (in the sense that it’s unknown), but do you really think it’s any harder than sending out resumes day after day or living for a phone interview and then not hearing anything for 3 or 4 weeks? Is it any harder than learning that you are “overqualified” or “underskilled” or just one of 300 resumes in a stack? Is it any harder than knowing that retirement isn’t just around the corner and that you won’t easily find another position based upon your Director or VP job title? Do you really think it’s harder than waiting for the next round and hoping your layoff notice isn’t part of it?

Wake up!
If you really think that you’ll find the stability you’re seeking in your next position–for sure–then you are clowning around with your livelihood. You have tunnel vision, and you’re living on false hope. Attributed to anonymous, this says it all:

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.

Be your own daddy.
Most people working today don’t know who they are, really, although to admit that takes some courage. [‘Who you are’ is also called your foundation.] Of course you know who you are, how could you not? Well, the fact is that we aren’t ever encouraged to get clear on it, we’re only encouraged to adapt to others’ foundations. Every organization you’ve ever been in has expected you to fit in, and you have. You might not have liked the values of the school, group or employer or how they did things, but somewhere along the line you learned “go along to get along.” We all do.

This worked fine when stability was a sure thing. It’s not any more. Without a single organization to tell you who you are, where you fit, and what you’re worth, chances are good that you don’t know. It’s not difficult to find this out: it’s really more about becoming very conscious of it, but it takes a bit of work. And it’s infinitely more productive with someone objective who can guide you through the process.

When you get very, very clear on who you are and what you’re about, you are your Daddy so can make decisions that fit–you have your “benchmark” against which to measure them. Your foundation is the defining factor, so when you know it, you can make decisions and know with certainty that they are right for you.

Clarify this benchmark.
To get clear on this measure, you discover the themes that are at the center of your being. Begin by exploring the threads that you’re sure to find in your answers to questions like these:

>>What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t or couldn’t fail?
>>What cause is so important to you that (to support it) you would work for nothing?
>>What motivates you…makes you jump out of bed to get going?
>>What are you putting up with…going along to get along?
>>What do you want your tombstone to say?
>>If you had no constraints on time or money, how would you live your life?
>>What does your intuition say about your life’s work?

Now look through your responses and see what words and phrases and ideas are repeated or are reflected throughout. These will be themes or threads around what’s important to you…about what defines you, and is the beginning work of clarifying your foundation. Add to this your values, talents and deep motivations, and you’re on your way to having your benchmark! With it, you make career decisions that are truly best for you and that won’t let you down.

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