Is it time to suck the marrow? - Michelle Gibbings

Is it time to suck the marrow?

Bored? In a rut? Hate your job? But you have a dilemma.You don’t want to leave where you work. It could be that you like the organisation’s culture or work colleagues or personal circumstances mean it’s not a good time to shift roles.

What do you do when you don’t enjoy your work, but you don’t want to leave the organisation you work for?

While I’m never one to advocate staying in a job you hate, there are times when the answer to your dilemma isn’t about throwing in the towel but about finding ways to suck the marrow.

Let me explain.

One of my favourite movies is ‘Dead Poet’s Society’. It is the late and brilliant Robin Williams at his best. In the movie, they quote from Henry David Thoreau’s writings.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life….”

As a vegetarian, the concept of sucking marrow in real life doesn’t appeal to me, but I love its use as a metaphor. It’s the idea of looking at what is in front of you and making the most of it.

It equally applies to your career. When you don’t like your job, you can look for opportunities to suck the marrow. Find the avenues to explore that expand your horizon and open up new learnings and experiences.

This approach requires you to be proactive, which is a crucial characteristic for career progress. Research examined correlations between proactive personality types and career success. Individuals with a proactive personality tend to look for a change in their environment, are not constrained by situational forces, seek out new and different opportunities and show initiative. This study also found that a proactive personality helps people successfully navigate a new career.

So what are some ways you can suck the marrow at work? Here are some ideas to get you started.

Reshape your JD
Your job description (JD) outlines your role’s critical tasks and responsibilities. However, don’t limit your scope of work to what’s written on that piece of paper. If you need a job where you achieve and feel like you’re using your full potential, then don’t be limited by what you think your role is. Instead, take an expansive approach.

Get involved
Look for opportunities to expand your role and to involve yourself in tasks you find intellectually stimulating. Volunteer to get involved in projects that you are curious about or seek out initiatives that enable you to acquire new skills and are beneficial to your career development.

Take the initiative and talk to your boss or other leaders to find out what’s possible. As well as making your work more interesting, you’ll broaden your network, and you’ll be delivering more value than expected, which is good for your career progression.

Reward yourself
Increase your returns by creating your own reward and recognition scheme. If you find you’re not getting the feedback you want from your boss, then build in self-motivating feedback mechanisms.

We find making progress motivating. So, break your work into smaller, more bite-sized pieces of work so you can see more regular progress. And then, don’t wait for your organisation’s internal reward and recognition scheme to kick into action. Instead, reward yourself in a way that is meaningful for you.

As the Nobel Prize winner for Physics, Dennis Gabor, once wrote: “The future cannot be predicted, but futures can be invented“.

Getting you ready for tomorrow, today®

Michelle Gibbings is bringing back the happy to workplace culture. The author of three books, and a global keynote speaker, she’s on a mission to help leaders, teams and organisations create successful workplaces – where people thrive and progress is accelerated. 

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