I have the world’s greatest job. I’m often asked by students how they can be me. Actually, it’s seldom that blatant, but the other night I was speaking to a group of organizational psychology graduate students in San Francisco and one young woman asked, “How can someone get to where you are?” She meant, of course, how to get into this field and do coaching and leadership development.

After my typical disclaimers, I told her and her colleagues about how I got to any of the places I’ve reached in my life. In the course of the conversation, it dawned on me that I was the world’s worst career planner and should never give anyone advice. However, it might be useful to hear how I managed to have several of the most interesting, fulfilling jobs I could never have imagined.

Quite simply, I’ve never planned anything career-wise. Instead, I’ve had a firm grip on what matters to me — what would nowadays be called my values, along with a highly developed sense of curiosity and an unhealthy devotion to new experiences. There are doors opening before us all the time. I decided some time ago to go through any door that appeared interesting and was consistent with my values.

I can’t recommend it to anyone else. It’s undoubtedly a completely bad approach for most people (especially those who are convinced that their younger self was as smart as they are going to get), but it worked for me.

As I mentioned, I have the world’s greatest job. Every job I ever had was the world’s greatest job, even though they’ve all been different.

Have you ever had an unexpected job experience that turned out to be a career booster?

– Doug Riddle

(photo credit Kriss Szkurlatowski)

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