Your Profession: What Spurs You On, Excites You?

By Cathy Hodson

Unless you are independently wealthy or the most recent PowerBall winner, you probably have to work to pay your bills and to afford a certain standard of living. Most of us working types can fall into a type of complacency – going to work each day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year. After a number of years, we try to remember why we wanted this job, what made us so excited about it when we were first hired, and where that excitement went.

I read an interesting article in the New York Times about a month ago. It’s called, “Saying Goodbye to Titles, and Hello to Responsibility.” It is a Q&A interview with Seth Merrin, founder and chief executive of Liquidnet, the trading network.

In this article, Merrin explains that no one in his company has a title – he didn’t want people to aspire to a higher title, but rather a higher level of responsibility, which in turn would bring more recognition. Merrin said he wants people to be free to come to meetings and speak their minds. He said he found that a junior vice president came to a meeting and would tend to be quiet if a senior vice president were in the room.

While titles are nonexistent at Liquidnet, there is a hierarchy – shapes, guides, drives, creates. These labels are related more to a function rather than a job position. Merrin seems bent on doing away with the superficial or ego-stroking, and getting down to the nitty gritty of the “nose to the grindstone” work process. We’re here to work, let’s do it, and make it the best it can be.

Something else I found interesting in the article was that Merrin wanted his co-workers to challenge everything the company was doing. He preferred that his co-workers and prospective co-workers think everything is wrong with his company – and then he would ask, what are you going to do to help us fix it? Most people like to have a purpose, a mission, a reason to get up in the morning. How many of us jump out of bed with the eagerness of a child on Christmas morning, ready to start our day?

Are you working for a higher title, or are you working for more responsibility? What is it that lights your fire? Are you doing it? Are you making a difference in your current job? Equally important, what about the people around you? Are they up to the task? If you answered yes to those questions, congratulations! You are in the right place. If you answered no to those questions, and the job market can support you looking around, perhaps it’s time to consider a change.

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