Does Your Job Position Really Matter?

I have seen it happen so many times.  A very successful person, bored with the familiarity of his or her job and plagued by many conflicting desires, wants another place in the organization, maneuvers a transfer to that other place and is miserable after getting there.  In major gifts, Jeff and I often see a very successful MGO who “just has to” become the major gift program manager. Hmmmm…. That could be a pretty big leap!

Why do we do this?  Why is it we just have to move to another position and usually move up?

There are some good reasons:

  1. You really do have more to contribute – better ways to put your skills and abilities to good use in the organization.  I say “really do” in the sentence above because not only do you think this is true, but others do as well.  (Don’t just go on your own thoughts on this one).
  2. The organization needs you to help in new ways.
  3. The two items above are true and you need (not want) more money.

There are also some reasons that are not very good:

  1. You want (not need) the money.  I can’t tell you the number of times I have seen a person who, wanting more money, gets into a position that does not fit him, performs miserably, fails and then loses not only the job he so brilliantly got, but also loses the platform of respect and honor (and the position) he originally had.  This happens more than you know and it is a tragic situation.
  2. You want recognition. This one is tricky, because recognition is not all bad. In fact, one of the key attributes of good sales and good creative people is that they love to get results through their own efforts, they love to self-express and they love and need the attention and recognition of others.  This is good.  When interviewing for these types of positions, I always try to discern if the person is satisfied with being one of many in his group or, instead, needs to be a key contributor?  If he is satisfied being one of many, he will not succeed in his job.  A critical attribute of good sales people (read MGO’s) is that they, motivationally, need to stand out from the group and they need to be key contributors.  So this is good.  But where this goes bad is when people are so hungry for recognition that they cannot see the limits of their abilities and they cannot respect and honor others.  They will do almost anything to gain recognition, including taking over the job duties of another person, grabbing the credit for something well done even though it does not belong to them and, generally, in an almost child-like way, demand attention, demand that their opinion be heard, insist they be included in a meeting, etc.  It is tiring to watch, believe me.  This is not where you want to go.
  3. You want more authority and power. But you want this not because you want to increase your service to others and the organization.  You want it because it makes you feel good and you need to be in charge, controlling and directing others.  I recently encountered a situation with just such a person. This person needed more recognition.  He needed authority and power.  And he was totally and absolutely out of his depth in terms of ability.  He was so far away from his true, authentic self – so far away from the use of any skill or ability he had that, if it weren’t so tragic, it would be like watching a comedy.  One gaffe followed another.  The person dominated meetings, yakking away about total nonsense.  It was a joke.  I sat in one meeting where I just wanted to get up and yell at the person and tell him to shut up.  It was that frustrating.  But then, following my own advice, I looked at the person through compassionate eyes and saw a wonderful human being who was simply lost – a person who so desperately wanted to be valued, loved and accepted that he just could not help himself.  It was so sad.

So if you are making the money you need to make, if you are happy in your job and your boss is also happy with you, why worry about another position unless you truly believe you can contribute more there or the organization needs you to help in another position?

Someone might say, “Richard, you seem to be saying that a person should never desire or strive for moving ahead in his career either with the organization he is with or with a new organization.  Is that what you are saying?”

No, not at all – and I am sorry if I am giving that impression.  I am talking about the heart and the motivations behind the desire to advance, and NOT the actual act of advancing, which can be good.  In fact, if there were no interest in advancing in life we would stagnate into an unproductive place of no progress and no energy, simply being satisfied with the status quo. And that would be terrible.  No, I certainly don’t mean that.

Here is what I do mean.

If you have unrealized potential and can use that potential (those skills and abilities) to serve others outrageously; if you see an area in the organization you are currently working for or another organization where you know you could make a difference by contributing your skills and abilities; if you need more money and one or both of the previous statements are true, then go for it with gusto, energy and determination.  I call this reason for advancing the “others” reason because the focus of your help is on others.

If, instead, your motive is about gaining recognition, power and authority and the points above do not apply, then stay where you are; you are obsessing about the wrong stuff.  If you let it play out, you will get yourself into trouble.  I call this reason for advancing the “self” reason because the focus of your help is on yourself.

While it is easy to write about these two positions, others and self, it is actually very complex to apply the principles embodied in them.  There is always a little bit of self in everything we do no matter how “other” oriented we become.

But my major point here is to control and manage self and to focus those inner drives on others.  When you can tip the balance from self to others, then you will begin to experience true happiness and fulfillment in your life.



About Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry

Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry have over 55 years of experience fundraising for non-profits. Richard Perry was co-owner of Domain Group until 2005. Jeff Schreifels was a Senior Strategist for Domain Group for 12 years. They came together a few years ago to start Veritus Group, a full-service major gift fundraising agency. Veritus Group has a unique, data-driven approach unlike any agency focused on major gifts. Jeff and Richard are passionate about their work, passionate about life and hopes this blog will provide you with insights and tangible benefits for you and your work. Thank you for reading!
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