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The Dream Job Fantasy

I am a firm believer that you should never stop dreaming. AND if you're going to dream... dream big. So, what is with the title "The Dream Job Fantasy"? If you read or listen to the people who think about dreaming big and making dreams come true most of them have some things in common in their prescriptions. The first being that you need to cover all aspects of reality when you are thinking about or building your dream. OR with respect to this article and LinkedIn, your dream job.

I will illustrate a trap we all seem to fall into with two personal stories: one old and one new.

After being laid off from a senior manager position in the second quarter of 2019 I revived my own consulting business. I advised many companies and managers in the concepts of lean, Six Sigma, strategic development and deployment, Theory of Constraints, and Industry 4.0. I had not been a consultant since the early 2000s. In the early 2000s I thought my consulting company was my dream job. I was my own boss, I had hundreds of technology employees, I was working with some of the biggest companies on the planet, and... I was miserable. Why? Because my dream job was actually 3 jobs which had me working over 100 hours on average per week. As the owner/leader of the company I managed the balance sheets, budget, billing, strategy, public relations, personnel management, recruiting, and so on. As the main salesperson of the company I handled negotiations, contracting, customers, requests for proposals, and assigning teams. And as an enterprise architect and program manager I was on several of the project teams doing work for our customers. Any one of those three jobs were full time positions. The reason I found myself in this position is because I defined my dream job as being my own boss in the information technology sector and that was as far as my vision went. After nearly 6 years of this I sold off my company, gave projects and contracts to some of my employees, and headed off into the sunset. Given this history, I did not want to start another company after being laid off in 2019 and continued to search. And so ends the old lesson informing the present.

My search ended (or so I thought) with a job at a gaming technology company as a Senior Six Sigma project manager. I started in mid-February, started working from home in March, and was furloughed in April. The bottom had fallen out of my working life. I had just spent the better part of a year looking for a job while running my own consulting company (sound familiar anyone?), received 4 job offers, selected the gaming technology company, moved my family to a city nearly a thousand of miles away on my own dime, and then boom... not working... again. For several different reasons I did not qualify for any unemployment or any other funds from the CARE Act. And guess what... time to look for yet another job. I realize this is a common story for many of us on especially during the pandemic.

And now welcome back to the new lesson. I was one of the lucky ones and was involved in the long journey that is common of hiring practices these days. I made it through four rounds of interviews with two different companies. Both were in cities that were on my top five places to live list. One was a company I had never heard of prior to applying for their position. The process started off poorly in that the recruiter and hiring manager informed me that there was no relocation allowance and the top of the salary range was below the bottom of mine. However, an interesting thing occurred. The hiring manager challenged me to stay with the hiring process stating that this was a new position and if I could prove my worth to the company in the course of interviews there was a good chance the salary could be raised to within my range. As I got to know the recruiter, team members, executives, and through my additional research I came to love this company, its culture, and its people. I got an offer with limited relo and a salary at the bottom of my acceptable range. The other company was with a dream company of mine, with a dream product/service, and a desired location. This company did not provide any information on salary other than this company tends to pay well and they offer full relocation benefits. Their company policy was to not discuss salary until an offer was made. I took another leap of faith in that in the end this would be a respectable offer as well. In the end, I chose the later company over the first company and for circumstances beyond my control the offer and position fell through.

So, here is the lesson of the new... I was so wrapped up in the specifics of what I thought my dream job should be that I missed an opportunity with a great job, great company, in a great location which would probably have evolved into a dream job. To pull in some old adages: I threw the baby out with the bath water. Missed the forest for a trees. Mistook a bird in the hand for two in the bush. And so on.

Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Napolean Hill, David J. Schwartz, the bible, Oprah Winfrey, and a cast of thousands of thought leaders on making dreams a reality tell us that you can achieve huge things (and I believe them). However, many of us do not know what we are looking for and have opportunities to realize potential dreams becoming reality pass us by again and again and again.

It reminds of a joke about a religious man who is the victim of a flood and ends up sawing through his roof to get to the highest place possible to survive a little longer until God answers his prayers. With the flood water about half way up his two story house a woman with a boat comes by and offers him a ride to safety, he turns it down thanking the woman for her offer but espousing that God will send him a miracle. When the water gets about three quarters up his two story house another boat comes by and he again refuses saying that God will send him a miracle. When the water reaches the gutters at the bottom of his roof yet another boat goes by offering help with the same results, same answer. When the water reaches his toes as he sits at the top of his roof a rescue helicopter hovers over him dropping down a ladder which he can climb to the helicopter's safety. Still he refuses. Finally, he dies in the flood. When he gets to heaven he complains to God for not sending him a miracle. With a shaking head and a furrowed brow God exhorts "what more do you need? I sent three boats and a helicopter?" (Source: unknown; retold with emphasis mine).

I believe a great majority of us think of our dream jobs as this man thought of God's miracle. We have a very specific and narrow vision of what a dream job looks like and we miss many opportunities for jobs that could easily have become our dream job (with a little faith and a little imagination). I find it ironic that we, as job seekers (myself included), give companies a hard time because they post unrealistic job descriptions for the perfect candidate which does not exist... and yet... we do the same thing with our dream job. We have a list of 100 things which represent our dream job and then turn one down that only meets 40 of them. I am as guilty as the next person in this.

So, what is the point? The point is I am asking you to join me in the pursuit of our dream jobs... keeping our eyes wide open, our hearts expectant, and our brains imaginative so that we all can get a good job with a good company in a desired location that we build into our dream jobs.

The Chinese word symbol for LUCK is the pairing of the symbol for preparedness and the symbol for opportunity. We all need to be prepared enough to recognize an opportunity for a dream job enters our lives or our luck will never change.

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