291: Deciding Whether to Stay or Go with Pete Mockaitis

By April 25, 2018Podcasts


Pete Mockaitis says: "Which elements of work drive happiness for me?"

Pete inserts himself into the show format, sharing his approach to tackling your next career decision.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The 8 step-by-step questions that determine whether to stay or go
  2. Whether the grass is in fact greener
  3. Pete’s favorite things

About Pete

Pete Mockaitis is an award-winning trainer and coach who helps brilliant professionals perform optimally at work.

He’s delivered 1-on-1 coaching to over 700 leaders hailing from world-class organizations (such as Google, FedEx, the United Nations, Anheuser-Buesch, and Apple), 50 countries, and every Ivy League university. His work has been featured in numerous publications including the New York TimesForbes, and Inc.

He began his career at Bain & Company and currently hosts the How to be Awesome at your Job podcast. The show receives millions of downloads from delightful people with excellent taste.

Pete lives in Chicago with his wife and new baby!

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Pete Mockaitis Solo Episode Transcript

I’m so fired up to dig into this stuff. I wanted to start by sharing a little bit about why is this something worth going after in the first place.

The reason is because I’ve done many coaching sessions with many folks and I found myself saying the same things kind of often and wondering, “Is this super cost effective for folks? Is there a better resource I might be able to point folks to?” At the same time I also found some gaps there in terms of the tools available or some questions I did not yet have great answers to and I had to dig in a little farther to come up with them.

Beyond that, in talking with listeners, it seemed like this was a strong issue that was recurring again and again for people, saying things like, “Boy, I have a stable job. It would be kind of stupid to leave. At the same time, I’m not really happy here. Well, isn’t that work? Is the grass really greener anywhere else? I don’t know. Oh, I wish I wasn’t so wishy washy. Oh I’ve got mortgage. I’ve got a family. I’ve got responsibilities. I shouldn’t entertain leaving, but at the same time I’m not happy here. But would it just be the same in another environment?” a whole lot of pain and consternation.

It’s a tricky question and one that cannot be answered with a quick Google search or an internet listicle and instead really requires going into some real depth. It has taken thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours to craft a course that can aid in this tricky decision.

I want to share with you some of the greatest hits, tidbits, and those eight key questions that unfold step-by-step in order to aid you if you find yourself in this trick spot, trying to make the decision.

I’m going to talk through each of these questions, which build upon each other one by one.

You might have a decision by the end of this podcast episode or at least have some great things to heat up to take further action and finally make some good practice if you’ve been stuck on the matter for a while. Let’s get into it.

The first question to consider here is what’s the ultimate goal. The short answer on that is arriving at a decision with clarity, with confidence, with conviction.

I’ve already had folks share with me as they’ve worked through some of the modules that they feel so much better about their current work because they just didn’t just have a knee-jerk reaction, they didn’t just focus in on the part of the job that they hate and sort of bemoan it and say, “Oh, this sucks. I want to be out of here,” but they realize, “Huh, after having taken a look around, I realize things aren’t perfect here and I want to try and make some improvements, but it’s not so bad.”

That’s a great victory right there, a decision that for now I’m going to stay and that’s cool. I’ve got some clarity, some confidence, some conviction around that, so that’s handy.

The ultimate guiding light I suggest in terms of how do you arrive at reaching such a decision is to do so based upon happiness. Some of my favorite quotes are that ‘happiness is the ultimate is the currency.’ We heard Gary Burnison say, “Start with happiness.” And that with Shawn Achor all the research when it comes to positive psychology, conveys that happiness is linked to performance and then is broadcast to others and impacts them and the work environment.
That’s the fundamental guiding light I suggest that you look at if you’re making this decision is to start there. That sounds kind of obvious, but the challenge is that a lot of times our thought processes get derailed by a lot of shoulds and buts before you even really get started thinking about it.

It can sound like, “But I’ve got a mortgage and a family. It would be irresponsible to quit. But I’m not going to find this kind of money at another job. I’d be kind of stupid to leave. But I feel guilty abandoning this important work that we‘re doing here. But I don’t want to lose these precious relationships I’ve formed. Maybe it’s just me.”
Or, “Maybe things will get better. Maybe I’m just not good enough. But I fear the unknown. How do we know if the next job is going to be any better whatsoever?” I give some quick take answers to each of these concerns if that’s showing up for you in an upcoming video that is going to speak to them. You can get access to that by going to DoIStayOrGo.com to sign up for such videos.

For now I’ll just make a quick point about the money. When it comes to, “I’m not going to find this kind of money elsewhere,” I just want to plant a seed that it’s very possible, if you think of happiness as the ultimate currency, to switch jobs and get a different job that pays less and for that to actually be an upgrade for you.

I’ve got a friend of a friend right now who is taking on a bigger position. There’s a whole lot more responsibility, a whole lot more stress and substantially more money and yet she is miserable. She’s been crying and she’s been begging to get a demotion and to be paid less money. That happens.

In the professional preferences assessment results only about 9% of folks had an upgrade in compensation as one of their top three happiness drivers. It didn’t make the top three out of 15 compensation for 91% of folks.

Interesting paradigm shift there. It’s not just about the best job is the one with the best money. No, no. It seems that in fact, in our experience, that is clearly not the case for the majority, but, nonetheless, it can be sort of lodged into the brain as the thing that is to be optimized and maximized above all else.

The second big question is which elements of work drive happiness for me. The short answer is it is a combination of 15 happiness drivers across the area of rewards, experiences, and demands. These really do vary substantially person by person which we’ve seen time and time again when folks do the assessment, which you can do at DoIStayorGo.com.

Now some folks are all about the compensation, the security, the advancement potential, the prestige. Others are more into the people stuff, the appreciation, the warmth, the purpose, the trustworthy colleagues. Others are more into the learning, the compelling tasks, the styles of alignment, the autonomy or the time load or the flexibility.

It really does vary person by person. But the tricky thing is because no job is perfect and all jobs have these tradeoffs, you’ve got this bundle of tricky decisions with everything in terms of well, what really is most important here.

What’s cool about the assessment is we take each of those 15 happiness drivers and they all square off against each other. You are choosing between time load and appreciation or compensation and purpose. They are all squaring off so you can see ultimately having made 105 little decisions the aggregate results of what that looks like in terms of stacked top to bottom.

It can be pretty powerful and eye opening for people. We had a great kind, encouraging word from Jenny who said, “Wow, Pete, you’ve done it again. So many of the nagging desires that have been swirling around my head for years are now laid out neatly on your bar graphs.” Cool. Well, I’m so glad that was working for Jenny and for many others who have taken that.

It’s still available for free, so check that out. It’s at DoIStayOrGo.com, the assessment. Pretty cool stuff that can spark a whole boatload of clarity in a hurry and cut through a lot of the morass that might be in your head right now.

The third question is, is that grass really greener elsewhere. The short answer is a definite maybe. The scoop is it really goes both ways in terms of some people they are in their jobs and they get so caught up with the thing they don’t like when they stop and take a look and see, “Hm, how does this opportunity really stack up against alternatives.” You see, “Hey, it’s actually not so bad.”

Other times it goes just the opposite way in terms of folks are so accustomed to the toxic bad stuff that’s going on they think, “Oh yeah, this is just normal. This is just what work’s like.” Then you take a look around, it’s like, “Oh my gosh, not at all is that the case.”

Here we borrow a little bit of a page from Consumer Research in terms of saying for like a given brand, what are the most important features associated with it and then how is one brand performing on that.

If we were looking and comparing say fast food companies together, we’d first determine for consumers how important all the different factors like speed, health, cost, the freshness, the customization, the clean environment of the restaurant. Then we’d also take a look at and how well does this particular restaurant do, McDonald’s versus Wendy’s versus Burger King to kind of get a lay of the land and see where should we focus.

Likewise we do the same with happiness drivers in your current job versus others, and getting a little bit of benchmark context to say, “Okay, well, what’s this look like elsewhere,” and some fun facts like for learning. Well, 32% of people have a mentor at work.

For the alignment of work styles, about 52% of folks say their meetings are effective. For time load, well, hey, we’ve got quite a range with 13% working 7 or fewer hours in a day and 13% working 12 plus hours a day and then the bits in the middle you can see.

By getting a little bit of that context and then doing a rating, you can see, “Okay, on the dimensions that really matter for me, how is my job stacking up?” If it’s not stacking up so well as compared to what’s out there, you’ve got your answer. Yup, that grass is substantially greener elsewhere or, “Oh hey, it looks like we’re doing okay after all.”
The fourth question is how can I improve right where I am. The short answer here is by changing either your mindset or your extracurricular activities outside work there or reshaping the work situation itself.

You can make a world of difference giving yourself a boost in these areas of happiness drivers if you 1) just think about things differently. For example, instead of thinking about how this is all bull crap that you have to deal with all this stuff, reframing to who is this helping and serving and how and that can spark something.

Or when it comes to extracurricular activities, if you feel like you’re not getting enough purpose or warmth in your work environment, well, you can find that elsewhere, whether that’s volunteering or making more of a special effort associated with seeing your cool besties and getting those exchanges going.

Or when it comes to reshaping the work environment, talking about pushing back diplomatically, tactfully, how to make that happen successfully as well as prudently and shrewdly assessing are things likely to change here if I take a lay of the land and see how feedback requests and suggestions and those sorts of things have gone historically. We can just get a bit of a lay of the land for how that works.

Having established those three strategies, we then look to applying them across each of the 15 happiness drivers to generate over 100 starter ideas for inspiration. Just to zero in on one or two that you can truly commit to do to improve your work situation happiness right then and there.

One of my favorites is when it comes to compelling tasks, you can actually just proactively swap tasks with someone else at work. We heard this tip from Lisa Cummings in the Strengths episode. If you can zoom in on, “Hey, I like this and I’m strong at this and you like that and you’re strong at that, why don’t we just quietly, informally do a little switcheroo?” It’s a fun win-win for everyone there.

That’s just one idea. Maybe that works, maybe it’s doesn’t. But after cruising through the 100 and pondering you’re on, you come up with a few things, one or two at least, that will really make a world of difference for boosting your happiness right then and there in your current work environment.

The fifth question we tackle is what would be the most amazing work ever. The short answer to get there is we first release some constraints to thoughts. Secondly, we kind of dig deep into your youness and what makes you tick. Third we do a quick assessment for is that thing likely to be so amazing.

For releasing your constraints, often before an ideation, a divergent thinking, brainstorming process even get started, we tend to short change our self, like well the job has to have at least 80,000 dollars or it has to be in this location.

We go through a little bit of an approach for breaking that down which includes, thinking through well, why must that be the case, is that a valid value underneath the why and is there an alternative means of satisfying that. It’s kind of cool what can come up in terms of alternative means so that you feel a bit freer to dig and really think about what would be the coolest work experience ever.

From there we dig into your psyche, your personality, your youness asking provocative questions like, “What did you like to do as a kid? What made you weird as a kid? Describe your ideal day from top to bottom and how does that fit into it? If you think about some of the greatest days of work, what made them the greatest days of work?”

Getting that introspection going to see what is potentially an opportunity that would have all the cool goodies and lots of it and then to take a quick look and say, “Well, is that likely to really be the case or is that a fantasy land,” and just consulting the crystal ball or the time machine if you will by just imagining yourself in that scene. What do you see?

Getting a quick sense for what a day in the life looks like via some research approaches and just getting yourself, “Why was this the most amazingly awesome perfect decision ever and why was this a terrible decision? What did I overlook?” or, “What must be true for this to be a good move? Then how can I test that?”

We get a real quick sense for loosening up, coming up with the coolest work experiences you can conceive and then taking a quick look, “Huh, is that for real? Is that likely to be the case?”

The sixth question is who really has the answers about whether or not an alternative opportunity could be superior. The short answer is interesting, helpful people at interesting organizations. Here we talk all about how do we surface such interesting organizations and then people within them.

This is fun and I get to get dorky and tactical looking at databases and listings and services there, whether it’s the Hoovers’ Avention Dun & Bradstreet, … database that can surface all kinds of different organizations from different industries or it’s using GuideStar Foundation Center along the lines of NTEE codes to find the coolest nonprofits who are getting grants and are large and growing and substantial.

Or whether it is getting jiggy with the lists from the Fortune 500 or the Inc. 5,000 or the TechCrunch, Crunchbase …. Oh wow, there’s so many cool organizations out there I had never even heard of. They’re doing exactly what I want to do and have money and are growing.

Those kinds of things can be rather intriguing. It’s like oh well, then once you find them, how do I find the specific people who are there using things like a Tweeple search in the Twitter bios, like, “Oh, hey, here’s somebody who works there and says right in their bio that they work there and freely tweets things associated with it. Maybe they would be open to a conversation.”

Or getting jiggy with some LinkedIn approaches to surface folks and then related folks and your connection to those folks. Getting some specific names here associated with “Well, there is a person right there whose name is John Smith or whatever who would actually have an answer for me.” Then we end there by having a list of great names at great organizations.

The seventh question is how do I get such people to talk to me. The short answer is by finding their contact information and sending them an optimized digital message.

For finding their contact information, there’s a number of interesting tools such as Hunter.io, which will tell you specific names and emails associated with a given domain or URL or even just the structure. Is it first initial dot last name? Is it first name last name no dot? Is it first name dot last name? You kind of cut through that ambiguity, so you’ve got just the one.

Then we talk about what is the optimal message to send and some principals associated with making it super short, super easy to say yes to, and then some encouragement that even if you don’t have the optimized message, your response rate will be pretty good.

I share the full text of an email or LinkedIn message I got from someone who was asking about consulting, which was okay. I don’t think it was an optimal message. I provide some thoughts for how to tweak it.

But what is intriguing was this dude, Casey, ended up taking very close careful notes associated with what responses he was given when he was requesting total strangers to chat with him about career stuff. Casey’s results were that 28% of the time, total strangers agreed to say, “Oh yeah, sure. Let’s have a coffee. Let’s have a chat. Let’s discuss your career stuff and I will give you free advice along those lines,” which is pretty cool.

Over one and four complied and he had done this reaching out hundreds of times. One dude’s decent, acceptable cold message got the job done over one in four times.

I think that’s really helpful in terms of if you are reaching out to many folks, some of them will talk to you and they will give you the time. Then you just ask them the optimal questions that matter the most to you given your happiness drivers and you start to paint a picture for how these options are looking for whether you stay or you go, which is looking like a rosier, happier scenario.

The eighth and last question is what is the final answer, synthesizing it, putting it all together. This is fun. We consult both the hard data and the heart date, a turn of phrase I heard from a client I really liked.

The hard data is we put together this spreadsheet which is pretty cool in terms of figuring out a couple things. One taking a stab at quantifying your happiness at a given opportunity based upon your happiness drivers and how highly a given opportunity rates on each of those 15 happiness drivers. We can sort of consolidate that into a rough aggregate happiness number.

Also, a cool number called a give per take ratio in terms of jobs vary wildly in terms of the compensation they deliver as well as the time, the sheer hours they demand of you both on the job and commuting and maybe some extra expectations for social functions or whatever.

When you put it all together with the commute, and the compensation, and the value of the bonuses and your tax rate, and all that stuff, what is the give per take, the wealth created per hour demanded for a given job?

If you look at those side by side alongside the happiness drivers, you get sort of a hard data, a quantitative view for, “Hm, my current job looks awesome compared to these other things,” versus, “Wow, it is really falling short if I look at the projected happiness number as well as just what I’m getting for the time I’m investing there.”

Then we consult the heart data, what seems good and right and true for you in your intuition, in your gut, in your belly. We’ve got a number of really cool approaches to get a quick read on that.

One of my favorite little ones is – and don’t skip right to this. I think that it’s best done once you’ve sort of taken a good clear look around is you flip a coin and when you flip that coin, you can say, “Okay, heads I’m going to stay here, take it head on and tails is they’re going to see my tail as I walk out the door and say goodbye.”

You decide, “Okay, heads I’m staying, tails, I’m leaving.” You flip the coin, you turn it over and here’s a trick. Rather than look at it, see which one you are hoping for it to be. That tells you something.

Anyway, that’s just one fun little trick associated with consulting intuition and getting a sense for what’s deep down there. We’ll talk about a few other approaches for tuning and listening in to see what you see there.

Once you consult the hard data in the spreadsheet and the heart data deep inside, you’ve got a pretty clear sense. This is sort of what needs to happen. I am going to stay. I’m going to make the most out of it in these key ways or I’m going to begin pursuing opportunities in A, B, and C.

Even though you don’t have a job in hand yet there’s huge power in the decision and the conviction, in the clarity and the confidence that’s happening right then and there. Either way you win, whether you stay or you go by methodically working through these key questions.

Again, if you want some extra goodies here, you’ve got DoIStayOrGo.com. I’m releasing three videos shortly to discuss this and then inviting you to enroll into the course. I hope you dig it, whether you choose to enroll or not, this content is handy for you and it’s something you can reference back when the indecision is getting a little bit more intense and you’re starting to wonder all the more frequently.

That’s my story here. Now I’ll share a few of my favorite things, turn the tables a little bit.

For favorite book, I’m going to go with How to Have a Good Day by Caroline Webb. We also had her on the program and I like that it seems like she shares stuff that makes a lot of good sense, like, “Yeah, that makes sense,” she shares the research associated with it like, “Oh yeah, that checks out,” and she shares a very simple implementable step-by-step approach to tackling it and it’s all about how to enjoy a day of work more.

I’ve got many, many favorite books. I think this one is particularly applicable to the topic du jour and very enriching. I’ll say that one. I’ve been listening to it on audio and I’m thinking I just have to buy the real thing because there are so many notes and flags I want to highlight and underline that the audio alone is not doing it for me.

For a favorite quote I’ve got, “I cannot give you the formula for success, but the formula for failure is trying to please everybody,” by Herbert Bayard Swope.

I find that quote so helpful for me when I get a little bit hung up in terms of, “Uh oh, someone probably doesn’t like this.” Because I guess I am a little bit of a people pleaser and I do love feedback and sometimes I take it a little more personally than is super helpful.

I was actually recently even in a Subway, the sandwich shop, and I started to feel a little bit weird or bad or guilty because of the person behind me in line I thought, “Uh oh, I’m taking too long in selecting all of my condiments,” because I kept getting all of the stuff: the lettuce, and the spinach, and the tomato, and the green peppers, and the oregano, and the parmesan, and the pepper, and then the – I put a lot of things on.

I was like, “Oh boy, she’s probably getting irritated with me because I’m getting so many things. Oh, I feel bad about that.” It’s sort of funny. It’s like wait a second, Pete, that’s quite silly. First of all, she probably didn’t even notice. She’s probably focused on her own stuff. Secondly, that’s just sort of how sandwich making works in Subway.

This has been a source of a helpful reminder and touchstone for peace that trying to please everybody is a recipe for failure as well as recipe for anxiety I would say because it’s impossible and counterproductive to what your ultimate aims for true success will be for you.

For favorite study, I’m really in to the Walter Mischel Marshmallow Test. If you haven’t heard of it, that’s when the children were presented with a marshmallow or tasty treat of sorts, maybe it’s an M&M or a Reece’s Pieces or whatever, but it doesn’t matter, only that it is tempting and interesting to them.

The rules of the game go if you’d like, you can eat that any time you want, but if you hold out and wait for up to 20 minutes, when the experimenter comes back, you may receive two of that treat. It’s all about self-regulation, self-discipline, can you handle the wait.

Go figure, they discovered that the children who could handle the wait and were able to self-regulate and go the distance to get the two treats had all sorts of other positive life outcomes whether it comes to schooling or other things.

Very impressive how that little indicator tells so much. Also very interesting how it’s quite possible to build these skills.
He said that some of the strategies the high-performing children used in order to wait included, looking elsewhere, playing a game, covering their eyes, and what wasn’t such a winning strategy is looking very closely at the marshmallow, maybe tasting the powder off of your finger, smelling it deeply and repeatedly, sort of that was contrary. Environment shaping maneuvers you have available to you are powerful.

My favorite habit is something I do almost every morning and it is sort of like a multi-mega habit that merges a few things into one. That is I like to do a nice walk, usually on my treadmill, sometimes outside or sometimes just back and forth in my home.

I like to do a good walk for about 30 minutes in the morning and while drinking my Klean Kanteen 27 ounce bottle, while also getting some bluelight exposure in terms of whether it’s outdoors or with this Philips blue light device that I use. Also, engaged in prayer.

I particularly like to be thankful and express thanks for sort of the five great things that happened in the last 24 hours because there’s cool psychology research pointing that to putting you in a more appreciative, and grateful and positive mindset, as well as some other areas of coverage there.

It’s really great to in the first half hour of the day to get all of these things going. It upgrades my body from, “Oh, I’d kind of really rather still be asleep,” to, “Oh boy, let’s get after the day. What’s next?”

For a favorite tool, I’m going to have to say OmniFocus. I think it is super handy. It is a task management application that is so powerful, robust and full-featured. What’s cool is how I can ubiquitously capture anything anywhere in the app.

It is right on my homepage. I can push it, put it in there, include a photo, include an audio description or just make a Siri command to add an OmniFocus item and then from there it’s in my OmniFocus inbox, which can be processed associated with the context or the project and the deadline and then reviewed. It’s so cool.

I never miss anything cool when someone says, “I read a really interesting book,” it’s like, what is it? Bloop, then that’s there for later processing. I can continue the conversation, capture it, and then later on go investigate, “Oh, is that a book I should read?” Yes or no and make a good decision.

I’m having a world of fun with that as well as in the mornings for creative time it’s cool to see, “Oh there’s my OmniFocus inbox,” a bunch of random, cool ideas I had or suggestions I heard, which brings just a lot of richness to life in terms of in that creative time for me in the morning, here’s some creative seeds that I collected previously and let’s see what happens. It makes it kind of fun.

Favorite way to be contacted? Anytime, please. What are you thinking about the show, feedback, tips, suggestions, stuff you want to hear? Pete@AwesomeAtYourJob.com.

Parting challenge or call to action, I just encourage you, don’t accept just the default state when it comes to your job situation. Take a quick glance and think through, “Is this really the optimal spot for me in terms of happiness.” Not to spark discontent within you but just to make sure that you’re making a contentious decision as opposed to just reverting to the default, which is continuing to do the thing that you’re doing.

A great first step to that is to visit DoIStayOrGo.com. Take that assessment to see which of your happiness drivers is top for you, and then think through “How’s my job doing on these. You know what? Pretty darn good.” Awesome. You can feel good and just be grateful for that’s where it is.

Or, “You know what? There are a few things that are very important to me that this job is falling quite short of. Maybe I should start thinking a little bit more in depth about if it’s time to look around and explore that do I stay or go in a bit more detail.

That’s what I got. I look forward to catching you on the next episode. It is Oren Jay Sofer. I discovered him from the Simple Habit Meditation app and he just I think has got some little distinctions, some nuances about this mindfulness, this meditation stuff that are well worth hearing to bring a little bit more peace, a little bit more compassion, a little more ability to focus with intention with what you’re up to.

I hope to catch you there and peace.

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