Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Is Yours a Job or a Calling?

I'm back from the holidays with a bit of a philosophical post to start the year. Over the holidays, I read an article by Michael Lewis that he wrote in response to Wall Street'ers displaced by the economic fallout. The article encourages the recipient and others to determine whether they are looking for a job or for their calling. I also found the responses rather interesting. What I found interesting in the tone of both was the extent to which this question is new or absurd to those in this space. The rats in this particular race are often excused for their lack of attention to this point given the money to be made in the space. With that changing, Wall Street'ers (I thought of using Wall Streetwalkers, but relegated it to parentheses instead) are left to ponder the same question as so many others.

I am also reminded of this point given the scant number of those in the world of finance that seem to have found their calling versus a high-paying job. One of these is an old friend of mine that I had the good fortune to see over the holidays. His discussion of the current situation is both objective and confident. He has been fortunate to find his calling in a space that pays him well for what he really enjoys doing.

The beginning of the year is an opportunity to assess the fit of what you do with what you want to do. If you are in a position of trading hours for dollars, that might be the right place for you right now. But if you keep your eyes on the horizon and consciously take steps in the direction of your goal, you will continue to put yourself closer to that point. Movement is the key, not planning for the perfect path. Michael Lewis' article takes aim at Wall Street as the topic he knows the best, but his points remain important across the professional spectrum.

For those of you less familiar with Michael Lewis, you will see his book Hardball on the right in my recommendations. His book Liar's Poker is also a particularly timely read. Finally, his recent cover story in Portfolio is literally unbelievable.

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