Why I have the best job in the world – and you can too!

This could be the most valuable Wrestling Possums post I will ever write.  It might shape your career, or change your path forever. It will help tell you whether you have, or could make your current job, the best job in the world. Or if it’s time to move on. It’s a must read, and please- pass it on to those you care about.

Before I tell you the five criteria to knowing whether your job is right for you, a story.

My girl friend at the time and I were considering buying a terrace home in Annandale, in Sydney’s Inner West. We viewed it at an evening inspection. Fairy lights were strung through the trees, twinkling away. Exquisite. We were captivated. We wanted it- badly!

Her Hungarian step-father arrived. He looked around. Took me aside. “Beware the pretty lights,” he warned. The building inspection proved him right- under the surface, the place was a wreck. Since then, whenever an opportunity has winked and seemed so attractive, I have remembered his words.  “Beware the pretty lights.”

We have one shot at our careers. Making sure the roles we give our talents and energies to are in turn giving us what we need to thrive, be fulfilled, happy and realise our full potential is vital. Often we get jaded in our jobs, and easily tempted by a new potential role, offered with plenty of “pretty lights”. A new role seems like a chance for a fresh start, and a step up. But is it? Or can you actually improve key ingredients of your current role to make it right for you at this stage of your career.

There are five key criteria which make up the ideal job for me. Have a look at each. Score each out of ten. I consider a 7/10 or above an ideal score for each criteria. Give it a go. Does your score add up to 35/50 or above?:

1.    Make A Difference: I must be making a valuable, positive, real difference. Am I contributing, bringing something fresh, helping improve things and helping make the business better?
Think about your current role….are you doing this? Can you do this more if you changed things a bit? Give it a score out of 10…1/10 being “NO- I NEVER MAKE A DIFFERENCE” and 10/10 being “ABSOLUTELY- I MAKE A MASSIVE DIFFERENCE EVERY DAY.” And do the same as you read on…give yourself a score after each point below…then add it up at the end…for a total score out of 50.

2.    Learn and Grow: Doug Smollan, Chairman of South African based field marketing leader Smollan Group and one of the best huggers in business, answered my  “Doug- what’s driven your success?” question with: “I stayed green. Don’t get ripe. You rot and fall off the tree. Ensure you are challenged and learning, and whatever you do brings you new personal growth.” Are you learning and growing in your role? Score it out of 10…

3.    Have Fun: I have ‘worked’ very few days in my career. Instead, it’s been an adventure of challenge, success, failure and camaraderie, and been blessed by working with wonderful people, ‘pirates’ who love to laugh. What fun we’ve had!  Would not swap it for the world despite all the damned hard work! A key to ‘fun’ is your relationship with your boss. (90% of the way you feel about your company is based on how you feel about your relationship with your boss).  And then there’s your relationships with those around you. Do you love what you do? Is it basically fun? Or do you drag yourself out of bed to go to ‘work.’ 1/10 you hate it, 10/10 you absolutely love it.

4.    Right For My Life: Does the role give you what you need for the other very important things in your life? Your family, health, interests, other passions? Are you able to have appropriate balance, whatever ‘balance’ means to you? A colleague rejects the ‘work-life’ balance concept. “It’s all my life,” she says, and can’t see value in differentiating between the two. Tom Moult, the Chairman of Ogilvy Australia, took on this massive role 9 months ago because in his previous role, where he was working part time, “I had a problem with my work-life balance: I was getting too much life!” Does your role give you what you need to lead a ‘whole’ life for you?

5.    Rewards Are Fair: This is a tricky one, and to score this appropriately we need to really think hard about what we earn and how that ‘fits’ with the role and the industry. Are the rewards you receive fair and reasonable given what you contribute, and compared to industry standards? Here’s the rub- we can always earn 15-20% elsewhere. That’s not the point. Put that out of your mind. The issue is fairness and reasonableness in your current role.

So, what did you score? Did you get close to 35/50? If you’re below, don’t worry. It does not mean you’re in the wrong role. Often, with a little bit of thought and dialogue, you can improve the scores of the individual pillars quickly. I am a great believer in ‘better the devil you know.’ In other words, focus on making a good role GREAT, not jumping ship from a good role for a new role that might be great.

Remember- all five criteria don’t need to be ‘perfect’ or at 7/10 or above all the time. There will always be ups and downs- periods when it’s not fun, the balance is bad, you’re grinding not learning, and you’re underpaid etc. It’s the overall score I think about- is my role close to 35 or above, and are all five pillars healthy for most of the time?

Check out your scores, and see which key pillars you can improve… which you can make some changes to and help raise the score. If overall the fluctuations keep the average at over 7 out of 10, well- frankly- I reckon that’s a pretty special role. Keep it if you’ve got it. Or take it if what you’re being offered seems to be able to give you a 35 plus score….BUT…please…. beware the pretty lights….

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25 Responses to Why I have the best job in the world – and you can too!

  1. Carla Vanner August 17, 2011 at 11:38 am #

    This is my favourite Wrestling Possums post so far, Chris. I talk about my career as passionately as I talk about my family… which is why I know I’m in the right place.

    • Chris Savage August 17, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

      You’ve always been a 150 percenter Carla!

  2. Sam August 17, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

    Thanks Chris, perfect timing. I needed to read this today.

    • Chris Savage August 17, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

      Thanks Sam. Look forward to meeting you in a few weeks. Chris

  3. Jane Conway August 17, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    Brilliant. I went through the list and agree that it really is the balance of all these points that make the difference between being excited to come to work and dragging yourself out of bed.

    I love my job. I feel so lucky to work with the people I do, have the room and the encouragement to make a difference & am constantly learning new things. Also my favourite post so far.

    • Chris Savage August 17, 2011 at 5:34 pm #

      Great to hear that feedback Jane, and to hear you are in your groove! Chris

  4. Carolyn Hyams August 17, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    Once again a brilliant post Chris. Very encouraging to those who are in a role but keep thinking they see greener grass elsewhere. I scored 45/50 but then again, I know I have the best job in the whole world (and the best boss 🙂 Feeling pretty lucky right now.

    • Chris Savage August 17, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

      Carolyn- great to hear your feedback though you are deluded regarding your boss! Chris

  5. Stuart Harvey August 17, 2011 at 1:29 pm #


    I have always been confident I chose the right company / job but using your 5 pillars and getting the result 37/50 just reaffirms I have the job I wanted.

    Thanks Chris

    • Chris Savage August 17, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

      Good to hear Stuart! Chris.

  6. Bart August 17, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

    Great post Chris, totally relevant. Thanks

  7. Jo Bayley August 18, 2011 at 11:00 am #

    Hi Chris
    Good post and reassuring as it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day and not sit back and be grateful for the job you have. Mind you – I do disagree that you only have one chance at a career. I’m into my second career and loving it.

    • Chris Savage August 18, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

      Thanks Jo. Good point.

  8. Jane Wong August 18, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

    Chris – thanks for your insight. I found this piece to be an interesting measure of one’s workplace satisfaction.

    I would contend however that you are incorrect in the assumption that “We have one shot at our careers.”. A great many people in and out of the public eye have created more than one successful career in their lifetime.

    Given that we are not all prodigies, typically adults ‘come into their own’ later in life. This might be in another field. It has also been noted that the Millenial generation will change careers multiple times, such is the fluidity of the modern work culture.

    I have witnessed some people achieve greater satisfaction from second or third careers because every task undertaken, every success and every perceived failure is a lesson learnt about oneself, of the world, other people and the development of knowledge and new skills.

    I am currently working pro bono to assist six timid creative professionals transition from career one to two, or to three. Each person has been following the a focused path for over twenty years and now feel great dispassion for their career. The common thread between them is that routine and repetition has numbed their creativity. While some people thrive on this kind of thing, creative minds seek reinvention and new mountains to climb.

    On my part I help them to see the pitfalls as well as “The pretty lights”. I guide them in dipping their toe in the water, planning, setting goals, staying on track and understanding their determining psychographics. Then I use my network to connect them to others with whom they have synergy, teaching them how to raise an effective public profile in their field. I have no doubt that they will transition into their new careers with satisfaction.

    As for me, I have always kept fresh with regular career reinvention. I see it as organic development of my skills, and accept that on the outside it may appear like I am master of none. But then, I have never been one to run with the pack.

    • Chris Savage August 19, 2011 at 9:56 am #

      Thanks Jane. Appreciate your perspective and absolutely agree. I will change “one shot at our careers” as you are right, it’s not accurate. Thanks so much for taking the time for such a detailed contribution. Chris

  9. Adam B August 19, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

    I find this applicable beyond the career. It’s a suitable evaluation for any relationship.
    Thank you, Chris.

  10. Denise C August 26, 2011 at 10:20 am #

    Excellent – thought I was feeling mildly disaffected and blow me down my score was higher than I expected, what a nice surprise! A simple exercise that put things into perspective 🙂 Wholeheartedly agree with the “more than one” careers comments, think I’m onto about my 5th.

    • Chris Savage August 26, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

      Thanks Denise. Glad to hear your score surprised you. Had a colleague tell me today his score was 25! We’re already working on improving it. Chris

  11. LizzyHughes September 14, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    Thanks Chris- I’m a big believer of ‘better the devil you know’ too! Cheers, LH

  12. Emmett Rueter February 10, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

    100 Fans for you. Couldn’t agree more with shows,fashion institute,fashion world

  13. Hannah Savage August 29, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

    When I read this last year, I was in a job I hated and pretty sure i scored <20, however I just did it again, and scored 42/50! I love my job, and love the company. Almost every day I get out of bed looking forward to going to work – this job is the first time in 10 years of working through school/uni that i've ever looked forward to going to my job.

    Plus, the boss isn't bad! 😉


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