Scott Dinsmore on How to Find and Do Work You Love (Transcript)

October 12, 2014 1:46 pm | By More

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Scott Dinsmore

What an honor, I was wondering what this would feel like.

So 8 years ago, I got the worst career advice of my life. I had a friend Tommy – “Scott, don’t worry about how much you like the work you’re doing right now. It’s all about just building your resume.”

And I just come back from living in Spain for, when I joined this Fortune 500 company, I thought ‘it is fantastic – I have this big impact on the world…‘ and all these ideas. And within about 2 months I noticed, at about 10 a.m. every morning I had this strange urge to want to slam my head through them under my computer. I don’t know if anybody ever felt that.

And I noticed pretty soon after that all the competitors in our space had already automated my job role. This is right about when I got the sage advice to build up my resume. Well, as I am trying to figure out – what – when do I jump out off and change things up, I read some of the different advice from Warren Buffett, and he said: “Taking jobs to build up your resume is the same as saving up sex for old age.” And I heard that and that was all I needed.

Within 2 weeks, I was out of there and I left with one intention: to find something that I could screw up. That’s the toughest one. I wanted to just have some type of an impact, didn’t matter what it was and I found out pretty quickly after that, that I wasn’t alone. It turns out over 80% of the people around don’t enjoy their work. I’m guessing this room is different but that’s the average that Deloitte has done with their studies.

So I want to find out what is it that sets these people apart – the people who do the passionate, world-changing work, they wake up inspired every day and then these people – the other 80% – who lead these lives of quiet desperation.

So I started interviewing all these people doing this inspiring work and I read books and did case studies and… 300 books altogether on purpose and career and all this, totally just self-immersion really for the selfless reason of ‘I wanted to find the work that I could not do’. What that was for me?

But as I was doing this, more and more people started asking me: “Scott, you’re into this query thing… I don’t really like my job. Do we sit down for lunch?” I say, “Sure, but…” I would have to warn them because at this point my quit rate was also 80%, of the people I sit down with for lunch, 80% would quit their job within 2 months. This was something… I was damn proud of this. And it wasn’t that I had with anything special magic. It was that I was asking one simple question: Why are you doing the work you’re doing? And so often their answer would be: Well, because somebody told me I’m supposed to.

I realized that so many people around us are climbing the way up this ladder that someone tells them to climb and ends up being leaned up against the wrong wall or no wall at all. So the more time I spent on these people and wanted to solve this problem, I thought: What if we created a community, a place where people could feel they belong and that was okay to do things differently, to take the road less traveled, where that was encouraged and inspire people to change. That later became what I now call LiveYourLegend.com which I’ll explain little bit.

But as we made these discoveries I noticed a framework of 3 simple things that all these different, passionate world-changers have in common, whether you are like Steve Jobs or you’re ‘just’ a person that has the bakery down the street. But you are doing work that embodies who you are.

I want to share this 3 with you. We can use them as the lens for the rest of today and hopefully for the rest of our life.

The first part of this 3-part passionate work framework is: becoming a self-expert and understanding yourself. Because if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’re never going to find it. And the thing is that no one’s going to do this for us. There’s no major in university on passion and purpose and career. I don’t know how that’s not a required a double major but don’t even get me started on that. I mean, you spend more time picking up a dorm room TV set than you do picking your major – an area of study.

The point is, it’s on us to figure that out and we need a framework, we need a way to navigate through this. And so the first step of our compass is finding what our unique strengths are.

What are the things that we wake up loving to do no matter what, whether they are paid or not paid, the things that people thank us for. And StrengthsFinder 2.0 is a book and also an online tool. Highly recommended for sorting out what it is that you’re naturally good at.

Next, what’s our framework or our hierarchy from making decisions? Is it that you care about the people, our family, health? Is it achievements, success, all these different things? We have to figure out what it is to make these decisions. We know what our soul is made of so that we don’t go selling at decent cost, we don’t give a shit of help.

And then the next step is our experiences. We always have – all of us had these experiences. We learn things everyday, every minute about what we love, what we hate, what we are good at, what we are terrible at. If we don’t spend time paying attention to that and assimilating that learning and applying to the rest of our life, it’s all for nothing. Every week, every month or every year I spend some time just reflecting what went right, what went wrong, what do I want to repeat, what can I apply more to my life? Even more so than that. As you see people, especially today, who inspire you, who are doing things, you say Oh God! What Jeff is doing… I want to be like him. Why are you saying that? Open up a journal, write down what it is about them that inspires you. It’s not going to be everything about their life. Whatever it is. Take notice.

Over time we have this repository of things that we can use to apply to our life and have a more passionate existence and make a better impact. As we starting put these things together, we can then define what it is a success and what actually means to us. Without these different parts of the compass it is impossible. We end up in a situation we had that scripted life that everyone who seems to be living, going up this ladder to nowhere. It’s kind of like in Wall Street 2, if anyone saw that the peon employee asks the big Wall Street banker — What’s your number? Everyone has got a number, they make this money or leave it all. Simple. More! He smiles. It’s a sad state of most of the people that haven’t spent time understanding what actually matters to them. They are keep reaching for something that doesn’t mean anything to us. We are doing it because anyone said we were supposed to.

But once we have this framework together we can start to identify things that make us come alive. Now before this, a passion could come and hit you in the face. Or maybe in your possible life working throw it to the side because you don’t have a way of identifying it. But once you do, you can — systematically just grew with my strengths my values, who I am as a person. So I’m going to grab hold, I am going to do something with it. And I’m going to pursue it and try and make an impact with it.

LiveYourLegend and the group that we’ve built wouldn’t exist if I didn’t have this compass to identify Wow this is something I want to pursue and make a difference with. If we don’t know what we are looking for, we are never going to find it. But once we have this framework – this compass, then we move on to what’s next. That’s not me up there — But doing the impossible and pushing our limits, because there are 2 reasons why people don’t do things: one is because they tell themselves they can’t do them and the other is people around them tell them, they can’t do. Either way we start to believe it. Either we give up or we never start in the first place.

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