career archives
“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
Steve Jobs, as quoted in the Good Experience article, A small, gentle question that could change your life, a great article on choosing to do stuff that actually matters.

posted by ted on Monday, Jul 13, 2009 · 1 comment

In honor of the New Year and the value of a proper perspective on work, life, family, and faith, I re-post this link to my thoughts on
the temple and professional development.

posted by ted on Monday, Jan 07, 2008

The Temple and Professional Development

One of the perks of working in downtown Salt Lake City is easy access to the Salt Lake Temple. We’ve written before about the beauty and symbolic meaning of the temple grounds, but today I wasn’t there just to admire the flowers or ponder great religious thought. This morning before work, I parked beneath the Conference Center, crossed North Temple Street, and entered the Temple for some professional development and career planning. Seriously.

I had some specific career questions I wanted to ponder and was also craving some peace and quiet before a busy day of meetings and madness. I figured the Temple was the place to go, and I was not disappointed. While it would be inappropriate to share everything I saw or thought about this morning, it occurred to me that the temple (and perhaps experiences in other holy places) can teach us a lot about how to excel at our daily work, while keeping that work in its proper perspective.

You’ve probably got a long list of your own insights, but here’s mine from this morning:

There are names and titles you can take with you. Senior Interaction Designer, CSS Guru, and Employee of the Month are not among them. I was not expecting this to hit me as strongly as it did this morning, because I was also getting great vibes about my employment. I love my job. I want to excel at it, not least because I believe so strongly in the work I am supporting. But I love my family even more and want to excel at being a great father, husband, and disciple more than anything. Thankfully, these goals don’t have to be mutually exclusive. But it’s good to remember the pecking order when push comes to shove, as it often does in our hectic lives.

Where you sit is less important than doing the right work, the right way. While this is true in any temple, you get reminded of it more often in Salt Lake, because rather than staying in one room, you move through many rooms and are seated and re-seated multiple times. In the past I’ve sometimes been frustrated if I got separated from a friend or family member that I was hoping to share the experience with. But in my better moments, I realize that exactly where I sit, what my position is in relation to the room or to other people in the room is infinitely less important than the work I am doing. The same is true at the office; my job title, where my office is, or what my role is on a specific project is much less important than that I fulfill my responsibilities with exactness, go the extra mile, and focus on the worthy goals the project is supporting.

The Lord pays attention to detail, and rewards your close attention to detail. I am constantly amazed at the richness of the temple experience. Every time I go back with the right motives and attitude, I see something new. The Lord is a stickler for detail and progressive disclosure, and I’m sure he loves it every time a temple-goer or scripture-reader says, “Hey! When did that get in there? Why didn’t I notice that before?” I’m not advocating that key functionality be anything less than immediately discoverable, but a good site or application invites users to find new ways to use it. It’s not a flash-in-the-pan experience, but a deep one that starts good and becomes great over time.

If your attention wanders, stand up, move around, and admire something beautiful before you sit back down. Breaks are important, not just from your work but from your chair and office. There’s a lot of design inspiration outdoors; go drink it in.

Silence is golden. Frequent, quiet reflection is not a nice to have, it’s a necessity. Constant interruptibility may be a boon for your interrupt-prone co-workers, but it’s a recipe for fragmented thinking and limited productivity.

Silence is platinum when it occurs in a holy place and frame of mind. Go to your temple, church, synagogue, mosque, shrine, altar, or prayer room. Contemplate your life as a whole. Get perspective. Then ask for help with specific questions about your work, professional development, or whatever. It works. (See James chapter 1, verse 5.)

Finally, inspiration must be eaten fresh. When I exited the Temple, I should have written down all my thoughts and ideas. But I had an “important” meeting to get to, so I put it off. I can still remember a lot, but I’m sure some of the inspiration has gotten stale and I’ll miss something I was intended to remember.

I guess I’ll just have to go again soon—which isn’t such a bad thing anyway!

posted by ted on Tuesday, Oct 31, 2006 · 0 comments

Of the Church and a Career – 8 career principles to happiness

Some time ago I assembled a small list of things that were important to me regarding my career. This effort was largely prompted by my wife that just wished for me to “settle down”. We had moved from job to job looking for the holy-grail mixture of type-place-people-pay-work euphoria. This is an expensive and taxing process if you don’t know what you want. So the list was an attempt to find out just what that was. Suprisingly it has not needed to change through the years. And equally suprising was that fact that employment at the Church (although not engaged in selling the latest product) fits each of these and I find myself incredibly happy.

1. Creative/Design Centered role: I will be a great designer. I will constantly seek out great design in the world around me. I will immerse myself in understanding new trends and tools to keep myself sharp and valuable as a designer of things. I will seek to eliminate “visual pollution” or unnecessary clutter in the realm of my responsibility.

2. Leadership role: I will inspire those that I work with to find happiness and fulfillment in their endeavors whether they are professional or personal. I will do this by listening and guiding. I will be a positive influence for those around me despite the current climate. I will be a strength to my team when they are in doubt or need understanding. I will be full of empathy for the individuals because of my life experiences. I will understand before I am understood. I will only introduce change when I have thoroughly investigated an issue. I will manage that change by providing the vision, the resources and skills, and a clear action plan. I will promote laughter and fun through the unexpected.

3. Passion for the Product: I will work for a company that produces products that I know, use and love. (the Church counts here!) I will work for a company that embraces the same values that I do as a consumer – quality above price, function and form are equals, exceptional service.

4. Mentorship from Manager: I will work for a manager that I respect and that respects me. I will receive with gratitude the teaching and training from my manager on matters of a professional and personal nature. I will be challenged by my manager to do better and I will rise to all occasions. I will have a manager that allows a debate to understand my point of view. I will respect and carry out all final decisions.

5. Compensation: I will work for a company that compensates fairly for the tasks that have been assigned for me to accomplish. I will work for a company that researches the compensation market to stay fair and competitive. I will work for an employer that rewards exceptional work that goes beyond the normal stewardship. I will work for a company that increases compensation as responsibilities change or increase.

6. Work/Life Balance: I will work for a company that respects the time I need to pursue other interests besides my career. I will work for an employer that is realistic about the amount of time it takes to complete work and allows me to govern that time individually. I will make certain that I leave my desk everyday at lunch to go and do something active to remain alert and sharp. I will work for an employer that is compassionate when personal matters beyond my control need to be attended to immediately.

7. Trust in Leadership: I will work for a company that has leadership that knows which direction the company should go and communicates with the employees honestly and openly. I will work for leaders that make sound business decisions regarding the future growth of the company and that don’t sell out for personal gain at the expense of the majority of the employees.

8. Location: I will work for a company that is located in a place that allows me to raise my family in a safe and secure environment. A location that provides stellar educational, cultural opportunities, and that provides ample and varied recreation. I will work for a company that is situated in an area that allows me to commute to work under 30 minutes in car or 1 hour by bike.

posted by paul on Sunday, Sep 17, 2006