The Best Job in America

The October 2005 edition of Men's Journal Magazine features "50 Dream Jobs." Since I haven't gotten an interview call, I'm guessing mine won't be listed. For its suitability to me, however, I would put my job up against just about anyone's. And I hope that most of you, our readers, feel the same way about your jobs. You're in your position for a reason, and I trust that that includes the love of the work. We are, indeed, fortunate.

Top-ranked among Men's Journal's picks is Brett Favre, quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. The magazine reports that Favre's journey to the top has been anything but pretty and anything but easy. His 14 seasons in the NFL have included time in drug rehab, several family tragedies and "a long and fearsome chain of injuries." But he's come through it all with a Super Bowl victory and an unprecedented three MVP awards.

"This is partly because, for all his blue-collar mettle, Favre has never considered what he does 'work.' Years ago, midway through a cold, dirty slamfest, he exclaimed in a huddle, 'Can you believe they pay us for this?' Because, for him, it's 'not a job; it's a dream -- a dream come true. Being able to play in Green Bay, at Lambeau Field, and to throw touchdown passes -- it's hard to explain how much fun that is. And to have your name called out, to run out in Lambeau Field in front of 70,000 people, and to do that week in and week out. I know there are a lot of people who would kill to do what I do.'"

The article continues by probing Favre's "secret to success" and his recommendations to others on finding and keeping a personal dream job. Whether or not you're a football fan, the list is relevant and pretty doggone universal; with all quotes directly from Favre (and credit to Men's Journal):

1 - FOLLOW YOUR PASSION. "Ultimately you have to want something, and I did. People always ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, and I would've given you the same answer at five years old as I would have at 15 or 25. As far back as I can remember, I was driven to accomplish it, and was willing to do whatever it would take. It all starts with the right dream."

2 - BUT BE REALISTIC. "As a child, you have dreams and aspirations -- everybody does. But you have to be realistic. If I had wanted to be a professional gymnast - - look, that wasn't gonna happen. Dream of it, but you have to have the goods to do it, and you have to be driven. You have to be fully committed to doing whatever it takes to get there. If it falls away, it falls away, and if it doesn't, it doesn't -- but you always go down swinging."

3 - LISTEN TO YOUR COACH. "I think the way I've always dealt with coaches is due to my dad having been a coach himself. Sons and dads always have their differences, of course, but there was still respect. You have to learn to respect your coach whether you agree with him or not. The coach is not always right, just as the players aren't always right. But there has to be a certain chain of command, and I'd argue that in every good business that's the way it works. You have to be coached. And whether you believe in what the coach is saying or not, sometimes the other guys around you have to see that respect. As soon as you start questioning the coach, especially in front of your teammates, you break down that chain of command."

4 - FIND A GOOD MENTOR. On the late Reggie White: "Reggie definitely shaped me as a player. He really loved the game. Look, practice sometimes is a bore, meetings are sometimes a bore, and it's tough getting on the bus and doing it over and over again. But he enjoyed doing it all. I learned a lot from him in that regard -- that you can make it as fun as you want, or as miserable as you want. And he chose to make it fun. To see a guy like Reggie, who'd been around a long time, was a shoo-in for Hall of Fame, and had achieved so many things -- to see him act like a big kid made you realize that you could be in your 14th or 15th year and still have a lot of fun. I try to relay that message: that this can only last for so long, so make the most of it while you can."

5 - SHOW UP, EVERY TIME. "You're only as good as the last game. If you didn't play in the last game, then you're nothing. You can't do good work, drop out, come back with good work, and drop out again. You have to approach each game or project as if it's your first and your last."

6 - LEAD THE WAY. "The best way to lead, to me, is to do things the right way. That means showing up for practice, and practicing a certain way. It means giving a great effort. It means paying attention in meetings, or at least acting like you're paying attention. Those types of things.

"I want guys to say, 'Hey, he'll do whatever it takes to help me and our teammates,' because I want them to do the same thing. I want people to remember me as a great teammate -- to me, that's the best compliment you can get. I want people to say that I played the game the way they would want to play it. Not that I had a strong arm, or could do this, or do that -- there's always going to be someone like that, who can throw, who's got a strong arm, who can lift weights. But there's only so many guys who would lay it on the line for you. I want the people sitting in the stands -- whether they're from Detroit or Chicago or somewhere else -- to say, 'You know, even though he plays for the enemy, I like the way he plays.'"

7 - DON'T CHASE SUCCESS; LET IT CHASE YOU. "If you do what you're asked to do, and you're good at what you do, success will come. You won't have to go find it. It'll come to you."

8 - WATCH YOUR BACK ('CAUSE STAYING AT THE TOP IS HARDER THAN GETTING THERE). "There's always someone to take your place, and it's usually someone new who they're paying a lot less money. Once you get on top, it's time to really put your nose to the grindstone. I see so many guys get there, and then all of sudden they relax because now they're the starter and they think they're gonna stay there. That's why success is probably the biggest reason guys fail. You see it every year: Someone has a little bit of success, and it leads them down the wrong path. They think, 'Man, this is awesome,' and then forget what got them there -- working out, preparing physically and mentally. You fight and scratch to get up there, but once you're up there, it's just the beginning. It's tough to get there -- but it's even tougher to stay there."

9 - GIVE A LITTLE BACK. "I don't think (charity work) is an obligation. But we all have an opportunity to do something in life. Just because one person makes X amount of dollars, and another person doesn't, that doesn't mean one has to give back and the other one doesn't. You have to do it for the right reasons. Don't do it because you want people to think you're a good guy."

10 - WHAT DOESN'T KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER. On one of the best games of his life, played the same night his dad died unexpectedly: "I don't know why I play so well when I'm under terrible stress, but I do. Not that I ever want terrible stress again. A game isn't worth all that."

Strong Leaders / Strong Stories

Strong leaders have strong stories, and a solid sense of "self" as a leader.  But too often, even strong women view themselves or are perceived as being very good at "getting things done," but not as valuable strategic resources. What can you do to change this?  Find Out More Here