Dan: Most people have simply responded to external circumstances without taking the time to look inward and to recognize the changing opportunities all around us.
Vera: You do give a lot of career/job advice but part of your mission is also encouraging people to practice introspection too?
Dan: 85% of the process of having confidence about proper direction in career comes from looking inward – getting a clear sense of (1) Skills and Abilities, (2) Personality Traits, (3) Values, Dreams and Passions. From those we can create a clear focus for what kind of work would fit.
Vera: You talk about how to turn one’s gifts into passion. For those who don’t know what their gift is, how do they uncover/discover it and translate it into passion?
Dan: Passion is more developed than discovered. There are few things that would be “wrong” early in one’s career. The value of first jobs is often in clarifying what we don’t want to do. Life is a wonderful journey of increasing clarity if we are paying attention.
Vera: When it comes to opportunities, finding or seizing them is one part, creating them is another. How does one create opportunity?
Dan: Once a person has a clear focus for the kind of work that fits, the environment that is most suitable – then he/she can find or create work that blends those important factors. If a “job” is available, fine. If not, it’s never been easier to create our own work.
Vera: You are quite balanced in never suggesting that becoming an entrepreneur is the only route to enjoying one’s work. How can the workplace become more of a place where people feel their dreams can flourish/do their best work?
Dan: If people are clear on what their strongest areas of competence are, and they know what value they bring to an organization, then they should never feel trapped. They know they can take those skills and find a new application. Companies need to foster that kind of environment – where individuals are encouraged to find their unique area of competence and operate within that, rather than forcing that person to fit into a pre-defined “job description” that was written up prior to the person coming on board.
Vera: What would you like to see more of in the world of work and why?
Dan: I’d like to see more people who are happy in their work. We still run at about 81% of people who say they would change their jobs today if they knew how. That’s preposterous – in the day of greatest opportunity it just means people are allowing themselves to be pushed down the railroad of life.
Vera: There’s that famous saying that one is the sum of the 5 people they spend the most time with. What’s the best way to identify the right people and get the most value from whatever time one gets to spend in their company?
Dan: One of the hallmark characteristics of highly successful people is that they spend time with those who are already performing at a level at which they want to perform. It takes intention to identify those people who are highly successful. And it takes clear intention to find ways to then spend time with them. I commented on blogs, purchased books from and attended conferences where the people I wanted to be around were already spending time. Those gentle connections have led to open access to some of the highest achievers in the world.
Vera: These days leadership seems to focus on all manner of things -not on character as one would expect. What are some of the other critical qualities of leadership that in your view are at risk and need to be actively protected and nurtured?
Dan: Leadership is not defined only by financial statements and market value. It includes things that are easily observed but not easily measured – like respect, hope, happiness, honesty, integrity, and honor of others. These are not taught by academic institutions but need to be learned from those already possessing those qualities.
Vera: As a leader, what kind of self reflection do you do regularly to check that you are practicing leadership that’s healthy and having a positive impact?
Dan: I have a high level Mastermind where I get honest feedback, challenges to my beliefs and resources and ideas for new successes. In addition I have a strict two-hour beginning morning routine that I protect carefully. And I have a loving wife of 49 years who knows me better than anyone and calls me out if I need to adjust.
Vera: What’s the strongest and most frequent compliment you’ve been paid that has surprised you and why?
Dan: The one that surprises me is how often people tell me what a great listener I am. Because I know that’s not a natural gift, but a carefully developed skill.
Dan Miller, President of 48 Days LLC, specializes in creative thinking for increased personal and business success. He believes that meaningful work blends our natural skills and abilities, our unique personality traits and our dreams and passions. Dan is active in helping individuals redirect careers, evaluate new income sources, and achieve balanced living. He believes that a clear sense of direction can help us become all that God designed us to be. Dan is the author of the widely acclaimed 48 Days To The Work You Love and No More Mondays. He has been a guest on CBS’ ‘The Early Show,’ MSNBC’s ‘Hardball with Chris Mathews,’ and Fox Business News with Dave Ramsey Show…to hit some highlights. He hosts a weekly podcast that is consistently ranked #1 under Careers on iTunes. Dan is also a frequent speaker at conferences including Social Media Marketing World, Podcast Movement, New Media Europe, Launch and Coaching with Excellence. He also has an online community with over 15,000 active “eaglepreneurs”!
For more information on Vera Ng’oma’s work and resources in leadership, personal and career development and excellence building, click here.