Eunice Azzani considers her job the most important in the world — short of an emergency-room surgeon, of course.
Warm and passionate, the Texas-born Azzani calls herself a head farmer — the cultivator of meaningful and rewarding careers for others. Her effervescence is contagious, and five minutes in her presence proves that she brings life to her calling through her work. Most important, she makes you want to do the same.
“You absolutely need to do what you love and to do it with people you want to spend your day with,” she says. “Life is too precious to waste a moment on something that isn’t meaningful and exciting.”
Azzani prescribes a deep-probing approach to getting in touch with your calling. This self-examination culminates with what she calls a Career Party. Before the party begins, she asks individuals to take out an oversized piece of paper and ask themselves some very poignant, difficult questions.
Name Your Passions
First, you must recognize your true passions — issues, concepts like knowledge or technology, job functions or skills, or people. Write down detailed descriptions of your passions, and then ask yourself what you would do if you won the lottery.
“Put that dream out there because you may be able to develop a career around your dreams,” she says. “And as far as I’m concerned, careers should be our dreams coming true.”
Polish Your Strengths
Think back to the times when you felt best about yourself, and note them. Remember the people, the places, and the goals that helped you thrive, and record them. List your most rewarding accomplishments. Hone in on your excellence.
“I don’t believe that people change,” Azzani asserts. “I think we should grow and develop our strengths rather than waste time making our weaknesses mediocre. If you really want to soar, take those nuggets and pearls that are your gifts, and shine them up — polish them until they’re lustrous.”
Throw a Career Party
After grappling with these difficult questions, select a few people who know you well, who have worked with you, and who have watched you in action. This group can include friends and family, teachers, coworkers, and even clients. Sit with them and ask them to describe your strengths.
“After some time in a job, it is easy to identify what you’ve done and to believe that those functions encapsulate your skills,” she says. “This zone is extremely limiting and closes you off from countless possibilities. Too often, people in a process of introspection neglect to seek answers from others. Individuals close to you are a veritable gold mine for soul-searching.
Do Your Homework
Finally, go to the library. Seek out the job functions that best suit your passions and strengths. Then, find the industries or companies that interest you and complement your job function. Above all, do your homework. As a librarian, Azzani believes the best answers come from researching yourself and from researching the world.
Her final suggestion?
“Our careers should be our dreams realized, but every career must start with a plan and the ability to execute it. Everything in life is damned hard work. That’s why you’ve got to do something you love. And you’ve got to do it with people you want to spend your day with. Because no matter how much you love that work and find it fascinating and exciting, it’s still damned hard work.”
Eunice Azzani is managing director of Korn/Ferry International in San Francisco. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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