Many years ago I stood with an older colleague on the deck
of his beautiful home as we talked about where he was in life, the challenges
he was facing, and the stress that was piled on him that most people did not
know about. On this occasion, he muttered
a phrase that has stuck with me to this day.
As the summer humidity hung in the air, he looked out over the city and
said, “Bob, most men live lives of quiet desperation and no one ever knows
about it.” It had a chilling effect on
me that night and it is something I have grown to better understand over the
years. Here stood a man who had
accomplished so much in life, had every sign of material and corporate success,
beautiful family, the life that most people dream about and yet he was
Being a close friend and confidant, I knew he felt
trapped. He was anchored in life, in a
career that left him unfulfilled but always yearning for more, trapped by his
material success and not even enjoying it.
He was on a treadmill where the pace continued to increase and he was
tiring but could not jump off. It was
easy to see he had all the wrong anchors in life.
There are good anchors like family, faith, and traditions
that keep us anchored and grounded on our journey in life. We need to build and protect those anchors. They become the bedrock upon which we can
create a meaningful life. However, there
are negative anchors that hurt people as they start to build their careers and
those are ones we need to understand and navigate carefully.
In my FoxNews article, “How to Build a Full-Time Life in a
Part-Time World” I listed seven things people can do to have success in
navigating through a challenging economy and job market. The second tip I gave was to avoid
anchors. Those coming out of college
looking to land a job need to be flexible and to build a life that allows them
to transition quickly in their twenties and thirties as they maneuver in this
new economy, take different positions, work with multiple companies, and craft
a career that will look very different from their parents and grandparents.
The same flexibility is needed for the mid-career
professionals and a new growing demographic, the 55+ year olds who are crafting
a second career for the next stage in life.
Over the past year, I have spoken with young and old
alike who are navigating this economy and have been amazed at the anchors they
place in their lives that prevent them from taking great job
opportunities. Here are common phrases I
I don’t want to leave this city.
I need to live near my family.
I can’t sell my house.
I need to make “X” so I can’t take that new
position because it would be a step backwards even though in the long run it
would be a greater opportunity for me.
This sounds like a great opportunity but I was
looking for something else and this sounds like a difficult assignment.
The anchors come in forms of physical constraints like
needing to be locked into geography or having lifestyles that prevent them from
being flexible. The anchors can also
come in the form of mental barriers such as a perception or fear. Both hinder the individual from being able to
seize and maximize great opportunities when they are presented.
Advice for Millennials
My friend and colleague, Calvin Dillinger has written an
excellent piece for millennials titled "Upgrade You." He gives great advice on things to avoid and how to save money. If followed, this can
help prevent anchors, reduce debt, build cash reserves, and help establish a life where you can be flexible
and transition quickly when opportunities are presented.
Don't Build Your Prison
Looking back on that night many years ago with my
friend talking about the issues he was facing his anchors will resonate more with the mid-career
professional who feels trapped. He had created anchors in his life
that became a prison. He was on a
career path he could not change because of his lifestyle…multiple homes, boats,
and the monthly overhead to keep it all going.
He had crafted a public perception of success and he could not walk away
from this life. He had created his own
prison that he could not escape although he was talented in many other areas
and could have been successful at many things.
To this day, with a smile on his face and cheerful greeting to those
around him he labors down that path but is quietly unhappy and unfulfilled every
minute of the day.
His words will stay with me for the rest of my life and I
will continue to use them as a cautionary tale to those seeking advice on how
to plan a successful life. In my last
post, I wrote about making sure that we are in alignment with our gifts,
skill-sets, and passions because only then will we be able to work towards a
career that is meaningful to us and those around us. Do you want to make a difference in the
world? Start with doing something you
love and are passionate about. Only then
will you really unlock your potential to be able to exponentially make the
world a better place.
How to Stay Flexible
With that said, here is my parting advice on avoiding
anchors in your life. I have seen these
to be big anchors that hinder people from seizing great opportunities that are
presented to them.
1) Debt = Work hard to stay out of debt. The more debt you have the less flexible you are and the less options available to you.
2) Geography = Early in your career don’t lock
yourself into a location. Be willing to
move often to take new jobs and advance within your company or industry. Being flexible so you can move is a key to advance in this economy.
3) Mortgages = Be careful when you do decide to buy
a home…this can be a very big anchor in your life. If you do things right this will not be an
anchor. Your mentor can help you with one.
4) Lack of Long-term plan = If you are married have
an understanding with your spouse on what level of flexibility and risk taking
you both feel is okay for your family.
Both partners need to be on the same page. Have a plan and be working on it together!
5) Lack of Liquidity = Maintain a cash
reserve. In business they say “Cash is
king” and in your life “Cash equals flexibility.”
Start with self-awareness about your skills, passions, and
goals. Then avoid anchors to help you as
you start your career as well as help you transition and progress throughout
your career. There is nothing I enjoy
more than seeing someone operate within their sweet spot, being passionate
about what they do, and helping others do the same.
A Great Example
The best example I have to offer is my friend Jeremie
Kubicek who is the Founder of Giant Impact.
Jeremie operated for years as the CEO of Giant Impact but he realized
his passion was teaching and inspiring others and he wanted to do more of that.
He recently sold everything he had and
moved his family to London to start a new division in the company that helps
executives and leaders maximize their potential. His keen understanding of his gifts and
passions combined with his flexibility and alignment with his wife and children
has allowed him to embark on an incredible journey and he is impacting world
leaders right now because of it. As you
take The Leap at the beginning of your career or later in life he is a great
role model to inspire all of us.
If you have questions, contact me at RobertDickieIII or via e-mail at RobertDickieIII@gmail.com.
As an officer in the United States Air Force I often heard the phrase “If
you don’t have a plan, you are planning to fail.” This wise counsel is not only great advice
for leaders preparing for combat operations but it is crucial for those
in the job market today looking to have success finding a job, launching a new start-up business, or working to reach long-term career goals.
The reality is that without help it can be hard to build a plan and then execute it. With a trusted mentor or advisor helping us it can be much easier but it will still require time and thought to put
it all down in a written document so we can reference it regularly and make
sure that we are on track.
First of all, we need to know where we are and where we want to go. When you are orienteering in
the woods, knowing your location is a critical first step to getting to your
You might think, “I know where I am…I’m a student looking
for a job” or “I’m about to launch a new start-up company.” Unfortunately this is not what we are talking
about. We need to go deeper. Who you are can tell you where you are. Finding out about who you are, your gifts,
skill-sets, desires, and values will tell you where you are in life. This is your starting point. From there you can build a career plan that
will maximize your talents and gifts to help you achieve a life of meaning and
This may sound strange but finding out about YOU is the best
place to start. We have all heard wise
counselors give advice to people to be themselves, go against the current, take
a different path, or don’t follow the herd.
This is great advice but I want to tell you about when we should go
with the current not against it.
The Bible says that “everyone is fearfully and wonderfully made.” God made each of us as unique as a
fingerprint. You and I are totally
different and there will never be another person like us…EVER! God has given each of us special talents,
skills, desires, and passions in his unique design for our lives. When we understand how we are hard-wired and
we pursue a career that is in total alignment with our skills, life is much
easier. It is like we are swimming in a
river with a powerful current that is helping us reach our destination. If however, we don’ understand how we are
made with our unique values and talents, we could find ourselves on a path of
study or in a career where we are misaligned and that is when life is extremely
difficult. Every day it feels like we
are swimming upstream against the current.
It is hard work, painful, and sometimes full of misery. If you know someone who is struggling in
life and not happy with their job or course of study, it is possible they are misaligned
in a key area of their life.
So how do we find out who we are so we can begin to build a
life plan and start our journey? Over
ten years ago multiple Professors and Ph.d candidates at the University of Georgia set out to design a
unique assessment to help people begin this process. After thousands of hours and
millions of dollars in investment Career Direct was born. Over 250,000 people have used this assessment
to build a life plan and make sure they were in alignment with how God made
I highly recommend this service as the starting point to
understand your skills, talents, values, and goals. Once you know this you will better understand
where you should invest your time in your course work and in the workforce so
you can maximize these gifts to help you achieve your goals. You will live a life of purpose and meaning
because you will be aligned with how you were made. My close friend, Handre DeJongh from South Africa is a trained Career Direct Consultant having done over 1,200 personal in depth consultations and he says that a person living life that is misaligned is like tasting bitter coffee. Life is too short to live bitter...it is time to live better! Crown offers counselors like Handre who will walk you through this
program and help you understand your results and guide you in creating a life
plan to reach your objectives so you can live a life of passion and fulfillment.
you understand yourself deeper and have clarity on your "life plan" it
is now time to build an action plan to achieve your goals. For business owners and entrepreneurs the
next step is developing your business plan.
I recommend the Venture Analysis.
Wade Myers as a consultant for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) would
charge Fortune 500 clients $60,000 to start this process. He took the exact formulas, charts, and
analysis and developed the Venture Analysis and Start-up Financial Model that
all entrepreneurs could afford. Whether
you are launching a start-up or running an established business you will be
amazed at the insights and information this analysis will give you about your
Once we understand our talents and skill sets and have a
business plan that we can execute against the next step in our process is all about avoiding ANCHORS! If you have questions, contact me at RobertDickieIII or via e-mail at RobertDickieIII@gmail.com.