Late in 2018, the “Chicago Booth Review” posted an article by Linda E. Ginzel called: “finding your core essence” (https://review.chicagobooth.edu/strategy/2018/article/lead-effectively-find-your-core-essence). The article refers to your core essence as “something that’s fundamental, deep, and meaningful to you.” It might have been serendipity that connected me to an article from 2018 amidst a period of renewal in the spring of 2020, or it might have been my subconscious leading me to a moment of inspiration. Either way, as I read this article, I could not help but wonder how many professionals take time out of their busy lives to rediscover what is fundamental and deeply meaningful them and how its applied professionally.
I have gone through much of my career very intentionally doing what I could to separate my personal and professional life. I have been through countless leadership development classes and completed dozens of leadership assessments where I defined my core values and built plans for how these would be applied to how I lead. Yet, as I reflected on this article, I realized that I had done something awful. I had developed two different Andy’s; the core essence of “Andy, the person,” and the core essence of “Andy, the professional.” I was connecting to personal values that I believed were necessary to be successful and get ahead. And while I was getting ahead, I was leaving my true self on the sidelines and not finding much satisfaction and fulfillment at work. Even worse, no matter how hard I tried to separate work and life, my professional dissatisfaction was carrying over to my personal life as well.
When I took the time to rediscover what is really core to me and what I value, as a whole person, I immediately had a renewed sense of purpose, clear focus on my passions, and a vision for how to stay on a path of fulfillment (and this time, a better blend of personal and professional fulfillment).
So, if you are struggling with rediscovering your core essence and are questioning if you are headed in the right direction with your career, take a look at this article. I then challenge you to do something very simple and extremely humbling, at the same time. Ask those closest to you this question: “What do you admire most about me?” When you hear something different from who you see yourself as, professionally, invest in rediscovering what your core values are, and the gist of what fulfillment means to you. Though it may signal you need a change, and change is hard, it will be the best change you can imagine – for you and those who admire you!