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Psychology’s Five Revelations For Finding Your True Calling

Look. You can’t plan out your life. What you have to do is first discover your passion – what you really care about.
Barack Obama

If, like many, you are searching for your calling in life – perhaps you are still unsure which profession aligns with what you most care about – here are five recent research findings worth taking into consideration. 

First, there’s a difference between having a harmonious passion and an obsessive passion. If you can find a career path or occupational goal that fires you up, you are more likely to succeed and find happiness through your work – that much we know from the deep research literature. But beware – since a seminal paper published in 2003 by the Canadian psychologist Robert Vallerand and colleagues, researchers have made an important distinction between having a harmonious passion and an obsessive one. If you feel that your passion or calling is out of control, and that your mood and self-esteem depend on it, then this is the obsessive variety, and such passions, while they are energising, are also associated with negative outcomes such as burnout and anxiety. In contrast, if your passion feels in control, reflects qualities that you like about...

The Case for Inbox Infinity

The day after Christmas, I spent seven hours sifting through more than 2,700 unread emails I had accumulated over the previous month. Like many other people, I intended to begin 2019 with a fresh inbox and zero unread messages.

Since the idea of “Inbox Zero” was first coined in 2007 by Merlin Mann, a blogger who championed “finding the time and attention to do your best creative work,” it has become what many people consider the pinnacle of digital organization. Hundreds of articles have been written on how to achieve Inbox Zero. Products such as PolymailMailstrom, and Superhuman were all built to help make our inboxes more manageable. And a growing number of offices have instituted chat systems such as Slack to help minimize interoffice emails.

Despite all these developments, we receive more email than ever. Email marketing systems and sales-generation software have made it easier to blast consumers with repeated messages at all hours of the day, and nearly every social-media app or service seems bent on barraging users with endless email notifications. According to a recent study by the Radicati Group, a market-research firm, people across the globe sent and received 269 billion emails a day...

Navigating a Leadership Slump

For just about everyone involved in leading and guiding others for an extended period, the time comes when the natural enthusiasm that fueled your work fades. For some, it’s a slow fade characterized by creeping malaise and a sense of restlessness. For others, it’s a full-scale leadership slump with a myriad of uncomfortable symptoms.

If you find yourself battling some degree of a leadership slump, there are a number of strategies you can employ to navigate beyond this less than desirable state of being. The common denominator in these strategies is a refocusing of your priorities, placing yourself at the top of the list.

I’ve lived this situation myself, and have worked with many senior leaders navigating their unique forms of leadership slumps. Four themes that emerge in all cases include:

1. Fatigue and frustration.

Years of attempting to navigate organizational impediments and bureaucratic procedures take their toll on the best of us. Let’s face it; organizational life wears us down. We are forced to color-in-the-lines and suppress our creativity or limit our experimentation with people, positions, and teams.

I once was told I could not create a new position in my business unit because there...

Attention Is Not a Resource But a Way Of Being Alive To The World

‘We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom.’ Those were the words of the American biologist E O Wilson at the turn of the century. Fastforward to the smartphone era, and it’s easy to believe that our mental lives are now more fragmentary and scattered than ever. The ‘attention economy’ is a phrase that’s often used to make sense of what’s going on: it puts our attention as a limited resource at the centre of the informational ecosystem, with our various alerts and notifications locked in a constant battle to capture it.

That’s a helpful narrative in a world of information overload, and one in which our devices and apps are intentionally designed to get us hooked. Moreover, besides our own mental wellbeing, the attention economy offers a way of looking at some important social problems: from the worrying declines in measures of empathy through to the ‘weaponisation’ of social media.

The problem, though, is that this narrative assumes a certain kind of attention. An economy, after all, deals with how to allocate resources efficiently in the service of specific objectives (such as maximising profit). Talk of the attention economy relies on the notion of...

The Most Experienced Job Candidates Aren’t Always The Best

When I started my company nine years ago, I was a young, inexperienced founder without much capital. This defined my approach to hiring in two key ways: I hired primarily young, inexperienced (read: inexpensive) talent while I got my company off the ground, and I trusted those young employees more than many would have, since frankly, I was young and inexperienced myself.

Although at the time I made these decisions out of necessity, they ended up being among the best hires I have made. We have 200 employees now, but almost half of our leadership team is made up from the then-inexperienced people who I hired in the early days. Here is why hiring inexperienced employees ended up paying off.

Experience doesn’t always equal talent

Entrepreneurs are often under a lot of pressure to hire the most seasoned, tenured leaders they can find. There is no time to stop and teach anyone the skills needed to rise through the ranks—you have to hit your numbers, and quickly.

But just because someone looks great on paper doesn’t mean they will be the best choice for your growing business. Think of the Peter Principle—the concept that in many...