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Creating Successful Leaders

We spend at least 40 hours a week at our job. That’s almost one third of our waking lives. So we better darn well get satisfaction from all that time and effort.

To recap on last week, Cal Newport’s book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You highlights three components that result in job satisfaction:

Autonomy – feeling like you have some control of your job, and that your actions make a difference

Competence – knowing that you are good at what you do

Relatedness – being able to connect with your coworkers

Newport contrasts these “ingredients,” as he calls them, with the pervasive belief that passions lead to success. Instead of following your passions, Newport argues that becoming very good at what you do, and knowing that it makes a difference, transforms a droll job into a rewarding career.

But let’s narrow the focus today to you and your job. Do you feel you have control of your own work? Does it make a difference? Are you valued? And can you relate with your coworkers?

Answering these honestly will give you a clue as to why you may feel dissatisfied with your work.

From here, the first thing to do is to take ownership of your skills. You can blame your job and your circumstances all you like, and you may have good reasons to do so. But this won’t change a thing. Become determined, if only for your own satisfaction, to master the skills needed to excel in your field.

There is no excuse not to work toward mastery, because no one has ever mastered anything completely. Take Jiro Ono, for instance. Widely considered the best sushi chef in the world, 85 year old Ono tirelessly pursues perfection in his craft, as depicted in the award-winning documentary, “Jiro Dreams Of Sushi.” His age and position in the culinary world don’t deter him from chasing after perfection.

So, you can always get better. While at work, take a personal inventory of areas in which you need to improve, and occupy your day with trying to master the skills your job requires. You feel better when you know that your work is valued and desired. Aim to be sought after.

Second, look at your past to boost your confidence about your present situation. Leadership coaches Amy Jen Su and Muriel Maignan Wilkins write: “To strengthen your confidence, first face the facts. When you look to your past, you’ll realize that successes often outweigh failures. And more importantly, that you survived through the failures and gleaned priceless lessons along the way.”

Looking back puts things in perspective. You may just realize that although your present job may not be ideal (and no job is), you have it now because of your accomplishments, qualifications and perseverance leading up to where you are now. This should give you some confidence and reassurance of your decisions.


Newport, Cal. So Good They Can’t Ignore You. New York: Hachette Book Group, 2012.

Su, Amy Jen, and Muriel Maignan Wilkins. “To Strengthen Your Confidence, Look to Your Past.” Harvard Business Review, April 11, 2013. Accessed April 17, 2013.


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