I heard a staggering statistic as I was re-listening to one of my favorite books Start with Why by Simon Sinek - 80% of people are NOT working in their dream job. You may be thinking, "Yeah, yeah, who cares. I'm collecting my paycheck and enjoying my weekends, I can muster through 5 days a week, 8+ hours a day of not doing something I love. I'm fine with being in that 80%" If that works for you, awesome. Ultimately, being happy and fulfilled is what it's all about, and for some, their work is just their work, a means to an end, and they're good to go.
But for many people, spending 8+ hours a day doing something that doesn't bring joy, excitement and contribute to the betterment of the world is a waste of one-third of their precious time each day, and being part of that 80% is one of the most depressing life experiences imaginable. If that describes you, then this blog post was written for you.
If we must spend the majority of our waking hours doing something to make a living, shouldn't we make a life in the process?
I'm one of the fortunate few that is in the 20% of people who DOES have her dream job. My journey to get here has not been an easy one (read more here) but I can say with certainty that each job along the way, each twist and turn in life that led me here was completely worth it. I have not arrived in the sense that there's nothing more for me to do from here; I have arrived in the sense that from here I can do, be and have EVEN MORE of what fills my soul. Even the way I found this dream job was quite soul-full (read more here).
This job isn't my dream job just because I get to do what I love - inspiring career-focused dreamers and do-ers to reconnect with their inner calling and lead a life they love. It's also my dream job because my personal philosophy aligns very closely with the philosophy of the owners, who don't just say what they believe and write their values in their playbook because 'everybody's doing it' but instead live what matters most to them every day - doing right by people & helping them be the best versions of themselves - focusing first on their team members, then on their customers.
So far, here's what else I've noticed that's different here....in fact WAY different from anywhere else I've worked.
They have an ABUNDANCE mindset - The Greenleaf leaders are very inclusive and give our diverse team members equal opportunities to be their fullest and best selves at work. There's no holding back. If someone wants something to improve their work or life situation, Greenleaf will often help them, with no expectation of anything in return.
We use the TinyPulse engagement platform (which I highly recommend) to ask weekly questions on team member engagement and give a place for team members to give anonymous suggestions on how to improve their work life. Most all of the suggestions get implemented, and if not, a good explanation as to why is always given. This has led to improvements like a Nespresso machine and outdoor picnic table for the corporate office and new move-in baskets and a resident survey for our field teams.
Recently, we had a speaker from Tony Robbins' company speak at Greenleaf before his event in Atlanta, basically to sell us group tickets. The speaker pulled one of the owners and I aside before he began and asked, "How many people is Greenleaf willing to let go to the event?" The owner looked at and said, "Whoever in that room wants to go, we will send them." The speaker was shocked and confirmed that that's what we really meant. I'm certain most companies would say some version of, "We can only let 5 people go and they have to be our high potentials." or "We only have budget for 1-2 people to go." Seventeen team members went to the life-changing event (read more here). Whoever wanted to go was included. (Side story: There was one team member who signed up to go after telling his boss that he was "one foot out the door." After checking in with me, she calmly called him and asked him if he thought that was the best investment for Greenleaf considering his situation, and he self-selected out so another team member could go in his place. Open, honest communication at it's best. After some contemplation, this team member's foot appears to be back in the Greenleaf door).
They help people achieve their goals & dreams - There whole reason for hiring me was to help team members reach their personal and professional goals & dreams, and that is just what I'm doing. Each team has quarterly goal meetings where we discuss business successes and concerns and then the rest of the meeting is spent talking about the goals they've achieved and what they're working on next - and I would say 65% of these are personal goals - things like buying a new home, getting a personal trainer, investing in a rental property etc. I've now participated in 4 or 5 of these meetings, and after each one I feel so inspired and grateful. Team members open up and share vulnerably, about their tough goals of paying off debts, improving credit scores, finishing degrees, paying back taxes etc. They're also vulnerable when sharing the BIG dreams that scare them - starting a company, traveling to unknown places, obtaining their citizenship.
My favorite dream story so far happened in the first goal meeting I attended. A team member had a goal from the previous meeting to bring her 12-year-old sister from Mexico to the USA for a week over the summer to take her to the beach because she's never been. When she reported back on the goal, she said it was going to be too complicated to get her here - she's a minor and the plane tickets were expensive and it just seemed like too much for her current situation. She was close to scratching the whole idea when her boss chimed in and said she'd actually come up with another idea - that the two of them could fly to San Diego and, since the team member doesn't have status to cross the border, her boss would walk over to Tijuana, pick up her little sister and bring her stateside where they could all go to the beach in San Diego. Everyone in the room thought it was a fabulous idea and felt so inspired by the whole thing. One of the owners said Greenleaf would pay for the trip and offer consultation from our immigration attorney to make sure it would all be OK. I'm happy to say, we've made that dream come true. Next month, the two team members will travel to San Diego and take her little sister to the beach (and even Sea World) for the first time. How does it get any better than that?
They practice what they preach - This is perhaps the most important difference of all. Many companies tout their commitment to employee engagement and play the 'outer' game of success in that arena - putting ping pong tables in the office, doing the occasional team-building activity, hosting family events etc. - but very few companies actually put into practice what really matters to team members.
Engaged team members have what they need to do their job, feel like their individual efforts contribute to the overall success of the organization and are recognized, feel like they belong and enjoy their teammates, and are growing and learning in their careers. Not only is it obvious that Greenleaf is succeeding in these areas by the response to the weekly TinyPulse surveys, but all you have to do is talk to someone who works here to know for sure that these team members are engaged and dedicated to the Greenleaf cause..
During orientation week, every single person who presented at the training said some version of "this is the best company to work for" or "this is the best job I've ever had" and they all truly meant it. This week, I was having lunch with a team member who has been with the organization for 3 years who told me she turned down a job last year that really suited her passion for community development because she "just wasn't ready to let go of Greenleaf." When team members are turning down career opportunities because they haven't had enough of you, you've truly reached the pinnacle of team member engagement.
I'm not sure if everyone that works at Greenleaf is in the 20% of people who work in their dream job like I am, but I'm sure that because of Greenleaf they're likely working towards it. And whether or not that job is inside or outside of the company, they feel the full support of everyone in the organization to make their dreams come true.
Like no other company I've ever worked for, Greenleaf goes out on a limb for its team members, they take a chance on making everyone's lives better and though they may get burned on occasion in the process (I haven't yet seen this), I'm certain that more than 80% of the time it's completely worth it because they not only know, but practice the oh-so-true adage of employee engagement - you get what you give. I'm so excited about what lies ahead for this great organization
I help people be true to their inner calling and lead the life they love.