Career Lessons Learned from Actor Luke Wilson:
Even though I’m not much of a movie buff, my husband and I usually watch one together on the weekend. A recent pick was the indie film Tenure, which at first I thought was a so-so, run-of-the-mill comedy. But the surprise ending carried a meaningful message about choosing an ideal career path, which really resonated for me as a career coach.
Tenure takes place at a fictitious New England college. Charlie Thurber (played by comic actor Luke Wilson) is the most popular English Literature professor on campus. He loves his job and his students love him. He even coaches a new professor (played by Gretchen Mol) to loosen up in the classroom and bond with her students. Even so, Charlie longs for tenure, which would bring him job security and a sizeable pay raise.
When one of Charlie’s literary articles is finally accepted for publication in an obscure online resource, the Dean and the academic committee grant him probationary tenure, with ONE condition: he works closely with a designated colleague to get more articles published; or his tenure would be revoked.
I wondered: Would he accept the conditional tenure? Is he going to become a prolific academic writer, while continuing to be a great teacher?
The answer came to me in a surprise ending: Charlie is walking down a school corridor into classroom, but not at the college: at a high school, as the new English Literature teacher. When he introduces himself to his students, his winning personality has them at “hello.”
Clearly, Charlie took a leap of faith by rejecting the tenure track in favor of what he did best and enjoyed: teaching English Literature and making it meaningful for his students. He knew literary article writing was not his strong suit and that he would be fighting an uphill battle to get articles published. He would have exhausted himself in the process, compromised his teaching abilities and put himself at risk for losing tenure and his job.
The lesson learned is this: When the job you’re doing is something you’re good at and that you enjoy, you bring your professional best to your employer, coworkers and clients. No one wins when you struggle to be someone you’re not, doing tasks that burn you out, in exchange for a paycheck and the lure of job security.
Your assignment: Go through your career history and create a list of all the job tasks you’ve ever done. Put an X through your least enjoyable activities and put a circle around your favorites. Keep this list top of mind before accepting your next position, and you’ll choose wisely like Charlie.
© 2010 Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin. The Career Success Coach. All Rights Reserved.
About the Author:
Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin is a career coach in private practice, who works with executives, managers, and professionals who are ready to make a change in their employment situation, but don’t know what that change looks like or what their next steps should be. She uses a proven, 8-module career coaching program to help her clients identify and land ideal career positions much faster than they ever could on their own. Joellyn will be happy to discuss your situation on a free call. Contact her at 508-459-2854, email@example.com or visit http://www.career-success-coach.com to learn more.