Of Nuclear Weapons and Nonprofit Careers: Keys That Release Your (Career) Energy
Here’s a puzzle: What two things require two keys to unleash all the energy you could ever imagine?
A nuclear weapon and your nonprofit career.
OK, I really don’t know whether it just takes two keys to unleash a nuclear weapon. I dearly pray that however many keys it takes, we lose most of them. But I know that if you want to unleash all the energy potential in a nonprofit career, you need to have two key things nailed down pretty well.
Key No. 1: What are my skills?
Giving yourself an honest answer to that question is the most important career move of your life. When you get that right, half the work’s done.
Are you an extrovert or an introvert? Are you good with numbers or better with people? Are you organized? How do you get your information — are you an audio learner or a visual learner? Do you usually lead by example or “command and control,” or don’t like leading at all?
Getting to the answers of these and other questions — whether you ask your friends, work with a coach, take an assessment like the Myers-Briggs or watch yourself as you go through the day — can take you down some unexpected paths. You might even share my experience after I read aloud the results of my Myers-Briggs assessment to my wife, who remarked, “What, you didn’t know that about yourself?”
I would argue that most career issues come up because someone — whether it’s you, your employees or your boss (it’s always the boss, right?) is misplaced in his or her role. Are you supervising a fundraiser who doesn’t like to meet people? Are you the one who is bored all day because you’re crunching numbers when you would rather be meeting with clients? Is it clear that your boss would rather be a teacher than a leader?