Monday, 15 May 2017

The Importance of Finding Work that You Love and How to Go About Achieving it:

A bit of translation to set the scene:

Firstly, job-hunting and career planning is counterintuitive! Meaning, the processes described in this article may go against your gut-feeling. The process of job-hunting is the opposite of how you might think successful job-hunters end-up in great work. 

How I met the Grandfather of Career Planning & Job-hunters:
I had the remarkably good fortune of crossing paths with Richard Nelson Bolles (who very sadly, recently passed-away)​, when he came to Brighton in UK back in 2000 to be a keynote speaker at the annual conference of the Association of Career Professionals International (at that time called IACMP).

[Dick's life remembered in this wonderful obituary: ]

His speech was a triumph of observation and spoken right from the bottom of a very, very sincere, warm, giving and knowing heart. Something of a rarity in our modern world. Someone deeply experienced on life’s journey, proficient in acts of kindness and truly and utterly authentic. A man tuned-in to his heart, who possessed a compelling sense of purpose in his life.

How I ended-up on a life-changing workshop in Oregon’s high desert:
We struck-up a friendship and Dick invited me to his famous 'Life/Work Planning Workshop' in Bend, Oregon, US of A. It seemed far-fetched that I should go to the high desert of Oregon and spend an intense 2 weeks absorbing startling insightfulness from one of the World's most gifted teachers.

He made it difficult for me not to seize upon such a fabulous opportunity. And a few weeks later, there I was, soaking-up THE most incredible experience at the almost ethereally gorgeous Mount Bachelor Village Resort​; surrounded by serene pine forest and the bluest of skies in the universe.

From 9am to 9pm every day for a fortnight I was treated to a feast of learning, self-directed study and a feast of the senses like nothing I had known before or hitherto. My life was transformed forever and it has to be the richest singular experience along my 'personal development' journey.

Technicolour Masterful Teachings:
With remarkable inventiveness, he wrote on *black* flipchart paper using iridescent chalk which howled to the senses shimmering in a magical ultraviolet light. So striking were the images hovering amid the twilit conference centre, up there in that high desert, that they remain indelibly etched in my consciousness to this day. Each interactive 'lesson' was preceded and punctuated by moving soundtracks, thought-provoking films and a profound camaraderie that enriches me still.

Self-discovery, at this depth of dive, sparked profound shared learning opportunities that possessed a transforming power. Delegates struck-up life-long bonds with fellow participants who bared their innermost reflections in their quest for life missions and meaning-filled occupations.

Dick’s reputation had attracted a team of distinguished co-facilitators from all-over the world. Each one of them watchfully attending to the details, nurturing deftly and enabling as delegates wrestled to comprehend their future. Encouraging us through those inevitable stuck moments when the senses were drowning in the vortex of intense self-enlightenment. The whole event a catalyst with such a profound and lasting legacy. It is hard to believe I can recall the experience with such lucid intensity 15 years on.

Plan to go ‘Proactive’ because ‘Reactive’ drains the soul:
I detail such context because Dick’s methodology is still not recognised as being the definitive job-hunting formula to this day. Finding one’s true calling and best-suited occupation is the greatest investment of time a human can make. The dividend lasting a lifetime. Yet so many people are utterly deadbeat, downtrodden and stuck under the burden of empty, passionless and limiting work.

Read The Job-hunters & Career-changers Bible:
The whole point of my writing is that to the vast majority of citizens still, finding great, rewarding, restorative, joy-filled, purposeful, motivational, stimulating, contributory and uplifting work appears esoteric, untouchable, unattainable and far-fetched.

Furthermore, the vast majority of dissatisfied workers and people out of work, continue to hunt for work in the complete opposite way that hirers hunt for workers. If you are having difficulty visualising this *fact* of the labour market, please take a look at page 8 in the 2015 edition of Dick’s world-famous best-seller, ‘What Color Is Your Parachute?’ (click on link) and take a few minutes to drink in the wisdom contained in this pivotal page’s diagram.

So many people hunt for jobs in Reactive Mode. They waste their energy on applying to adverts, filling-in application forms, firing-off CVs and résumés, investing hours and hours signing-up to job boards and websites that – statistically – are so unlikely ever to bear fruit. Let alone sate their craving for a job that reflects their talents, gifts, experiences, career attributes, values and aspirations.

Finding Great and Meaningful Work doesn’t just happen:
It takes time, energy, sacrifice and conscientiousness to land yourself a rewarding career. In signing-off this post, all I ask is you take the time required to produce your self-inventory. Cultivate your ‘career language’. Populate your vocabulary with terms that best describe your skill-sets, talents, experiences and achievements to date. Audit your career-related achievement stories.

Gather all your personal information together into one place. Organise it. Extrapolate this data towards your future and pin-point precisely the job in the labour market which generates the brightest spark when dovetailed with your vocational DNA.

Once you have managed to choose your own path – and you are excited by it – radiate, disseminate, proliferate and transmit the process. Let your newfound enthusiasm infect your friends and family in order that they too can thrive, grow and take joy from their personal development.

Take joy from Work. Spread the word. Enhance the world.
Let’s get more people into great work.
It is a cause worth investing in.

Here is a great YouTube film of Dick explaining the concept of self-inventory: click here.



Is Enlightenment The Journey or The Destination?

In the Context of Work, Career and Occupation, What is Potential? 

Where does it lie, past, present or future? 
How would we know if we ever fulfilled it?

Therefore, building on that theme: 
...the quality of outcome in realising one's potential - and generating value; which is a form of positive feedback...
... is relative to the desire to seek answers.


Striving: One's ability to wonder at the conundrum and formulate answers likely to zero-in on relevant answers.

= Meaning
= Joy
= Fulfilment
= Self-actualization

Enlighten-meant is in the journey, not the destination.

Have a career plan. 

But don't make the mistake of deferred gratification. 

En-Joy today. 

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

My stab at poetry - "Good being a good Being, being good!"

A #Career #Poem about the joys, benefits and shiny stuff that happens when we're in the right #Job!
I am not poet, as you can tell. But here goes...!
#nationalpoetryday #thinkofapoem

Good being a good Being, being good!
The bird’s wing flashes,
The body dashes, skyward, giddiest heights abashes,
And always, a beat our hearts do skip,
Purity of the instant fleeting,
And so it is, fusion, function, form and flow in meeting.
His hammer falls,
As Blacksmith smashes one more glinting metal epicure,
That’s where his cash is, brought buy his bashes,
His passion zinging through his very being,
Vocation quest’s his singing zest, borne from his best.
Her suture mends,
As surgeon tends tissues livid,
Grand ennobling gifts fly fixing life’s deepest slashes,
Pressure gravid, the ‘getting it right’ systemically vivid,
Her principles innate instinctual, succinctual, effectual.
There’s never any falling in to one’s intended calling,
Tis’ always built betwixt heart, head’s and gut’s alliance,
That’s where your passion lives,
It is always good being a good Being being good!
Delight-filled fusion of fabric, form, function and flow.
Hey Human Being, you need to be doing to be being,
Veiled in ‘being’ it’s the knowing that’s your plenty, purpose abound,
So see those Beings , their #WorkAesthetics and ‘Vojo’ in-the-know,
Watch how they go!
Plan to know, then go, go, go! 
Duncan Bolam © 2015

Thursday, 2 April 2015

The Campaign to Find Everyone's Purpose starts here with this thought-provoking short film:

Purposeful people promote prosperity!

Why is purpose important? Should we be afraid if people do not know their purpose?

Duncan Bolam warns that global economic forces and pace and scale of change facing citizens attempting to plan their careers is a ticking bomb which society ignores at its peril. Efficiency-hungry, austerity conscious organisations appear to be removing the need for skill from many areas of the labour market; either through mechanisation, downsizing, automation or outsourcing labour to emerging economies. He warns it is a vicious cycle; which ultimately leads to chaos, conflict and crisis borne from crisis.

These forces do not bode well for anyone seeking to maintain a steady income and a developing career; especially our younger workers. Many of whom cannot: get a start, are ill-equipped to navigate this fast-changing labour market, invest in a sustainable occupation, or simply don’t possess the career attributes necessary to market themselves positively in a highly competitive, globalised and shrinking labour market.

Throughout his 18-year experience, 90% of the people Duncan Bolam has met through his job as a Career Coach & Redundancy Counsellor are either completely in the wrong job or disengaged from their work. Worse still, as growing trends demonstrate, they are not working at all. Yet, his undying belief is that everyone he has ever met has an occupation locked inside of him or her and identifying a person’s purpose in life is good for all society’s wellbeing, socioeconomic and otherwise.

Once discovered, this sense of meaningfulness, motivation and occupational identity will not only feed, clothe, shelter, sustain, invigorate, develop and excite the individual citizen, and their families, critically, the process also meshes society together and constructs bonds upon which communities thrive.

With terrifying numbers of people unemployed, with the average number of job changes in a career in excess of 18 different jobs - all of Society's bridges into - and across - ‘The World of Work’ are falling into one socioeconomic crisis after another. Big business is perceived to care little about the quality of ‘fit’ between employee and their work.

Managers de-layer more and more workers out of their businesses in their ceaseless pursuit of profit. Many organisations outsource key skills overseas. And there is a risk our workforce is becoming de-skilled as a result...

Resultantly, if not at risk of being permanently unemployed, facing a lifetime on benefits, workers have less-and-less pay in their wallets. Traditional anchors that sustain a civil and secure society no longer function and communities implode into chaos, turning neighbour on neighbour, haves against have-nots, and the desperate in to dependents. Pride lost. Purpose gone. Driven to desperation.

People who are encouraged to plan their careers through better self-awareness, knowledge of their career attributes and insights into the labour market, contribute more tax to The Exchequer, are less likely to commit crime, cost the welfare state less, place less of a burden on national health services and comprise a more valuable, agile, resilient and mobile workforce.

Our governments have dismantled career development mechanisms and our education systems rarely prepare young people for real-life, sustainable and meaningful careers that will last them over the long haul between school and retirement; whilst making a positive contribution to the communities they live in.

With so many people unemployed, a growing population, more disaffected young people struggling to get a start in life, ineffectual public sector guidance systems and a profit-hungry private sector, Duncan warns that the system is broken. Society needs to stop and re-think what it will do with our citizens if we’re not going to help them discover meaningful work.

Organisations, business leaders, stock markets, our education systems and society as a whole cannot go on de-skilling jobs, removing meaning from workers lives, legislating against ‘skills mastery’ and generating labour market uncertainty. If we refuse to accept that EVERY person in our world has a right to a fulfilling career, meaningful work and a genuine stake in society built upon.

Politics aside, if nothing else, consider how much better off all stakeholders are for getting more people into rewarding, motivating, purposeful and secure jobs. If we as a civilised society focussed on eradicating unemployment and sharing prosperity, consider the cost of running the welfare state that would be saved and the benefits to us all achieved through increased competitiveness and harmonious communities.

* In future films, Duncan will describe his vision for full-employment, a sustainable working model and his campaign to eradicate unemployment. 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014


If you're developing your career strategy consider your use of language carefully. You will achieve greater clarity and find it easier to maintain focus if you build a set of descriptors that market the real you.

Call it a 'phrase bank' or 'compendium of terms' that clearly define your career attributes; ready to be used at a moment's notice. Pre-arming yourself in this way instills purpose and conviction.

Remember, be precise and grammatically astute. 'Creativity' is not a skill. It is a quality, a trait, a state-of-mind. Arguably, a value. (Values fuel your desire to deliver your skills.) 'Creating' is a skill. As a rule, skills end in -ing. They are verbs. Doing words. Opportunities to do 'your thing'; which will underpin your vocational identity.

Another self-marketing principle is that verbs should be in the past tense on your CV/Resume. They end in -ed. For example, "Designed a new database using Excel which managed our stock inventory and led to a 17% increase in the organisation's ability to ship orders to customers and fulfill expectations 99% of the time."

In your phrase bank of career attributes, consider the ingredients in your strategy. Or, as I call it, your 'Career Dovetail'. Alongside skills, these will include: values, qualifications, experience, competencies, achievements, quantitative results, publications, the list goes on.

On the other side of your career strategy formula, define/decide what other parameters influence your options. Categories such as: the geographical area you might work, supply and demand of your chosen career in your local labour market. Your lifestyle choices and costs relating to them will determine wage decisions. Your social network and willingness to relocate.

All these strategic ingredients will feed into the clarity of how you manage your career and your ability to leverage opportunities when they arise.

One final point, opportunities are seized upon. They don't come to you! Hence, the need to be prepared.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Can we learn from someone else's agony?

For me, this article seems to distil into 'take it slow and be in the now'. Be mindful. To savour the important things in life and not get hung-up and distracted by what we don't have. Let's not preach it, but practice. 

Friendships, relationships, time with loved-ones, truly communing with one another, far outweigh new cars, Prada shoes, Virtue phones, tech gizmos and all attempts to fill emotional voids with material baubles. (Not that that was why Robin Williams took his own life.)

Be there for a chum today; especially the ones you haven't seen for a while, the one who might benefit from a hug. Anyone experiencing solitude. The one who could do with a chunk of forgiveness but daren't ask. Affirmative action, might make all the difference. Looking outwardly not inwardly always seems to help. 

We're social animals living in a world of rushing material singletons. It can be tough taking it slow with so much peer pressure, but there's so much to be achieved by taking it slow, downshifting and learning the craft of selective procrastination. Rome wasn't built in a day. Don't compare. It is singularly bad for your health.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014



You may or may not know that I swim...A LOT. About 2 or 3 kilometres a day, sometimes more. I call myself a "Wild Swimmer" because I love swimming in the outdoors. I'm getting older now, but there was a time when I swam competitively. In 2007 six of us swam The Channel as a relay team to raise funds for poorly children. That was a test of my technique, resilience and preparation!

To prepare, you have to acclimatise to cold water and swim lots and lots of laps in the pool and hours in the cold sea to acclimatise. Swimming lots of laps can be boring unless you've trained your brain to go into a trance, to focus on your goal or simply mull-over ideas and put the world to rights. It helps pass the time.

You might wonder what on earth I am telling you this for on a career blog. Simple. Whilst swimming this morning, an idea came to my mind in the confines of my lane in the 25 metre pool I spend most mornings in. The key word here is 'confines'. It struck me in this large 5-sided tank of water that I was confined and, rather than feeling caged-in, the boundaries of the lane were very helpful to practicing my technique. Then it struck me that anyone succeeding in any particular job, career, sport or game, is similarly confined and benefits in the same way.

You see, nearly every business great, celebrity or sports star that we love have mastered their skills, strengths, talents and gifts within their specific arena. They have become outstanding by making themselves uniquely talented whilst performing ‘in the zone’. Every exceptional person you can think of has excelled within the confines of their chosen discipline. They have mastered the structures, rules and regulations of their chosen field and learned how to use these ‘guidelines’ (like a swimming lane) to their advantage.

In just the same way 'a field' can be a large strip of land surrounded by a wall to grow crops, the word 'field' can be used to describe an occupation, profession, trade or vocation. The more clear the demarcation lines around 'the field' the more recognisable it is. Some people get hung-up on the semantics that differentiate one field from another, e.g. Osteopath / Chiropractic, Farrier / Blacksmith, Sociologist / Psychotherapist. (Sometimes radical ways of interpreting the rules come along and we see the birth of new fields; but that’s another story for another blog entry).

Professional footballers make their living quite literally on a field of play. But their sport is differentiated by rules and regulations as is each position in the team from forward to defender, goalkeeper to winger. Otherwise their sport would be chaos and each game would be a free-for-all with no way of managing it. 

Skills mastery is a key ingredient in career success in whatever field, occupation or sport. For example, when I am swimming well, I know that I will take exactly 18 strokes of frontcrawl to swim a 25 metre length in the pool. If my stroke is inefficient, it will take more. If less, I will tire more easily. Knowing this fact about my performance disciplines my mind and helps me swim more efficiently because it gives me a reason to focus on form and technique. It also stops me from getting tired. 


Going back to football, world-renowned David Beckham has mastered his footballing skill to the extent that he is famous for his precise passes of the ball and great goals scored from free-kicks. He is outstandingly talented yet he plays within the confines of strict rules, keeps the ball within the boundaries of the pitch and focuses his energies, ultimately, on precision goal-scoring. 

He can tell when he is performing well or not by the number of goals scored or whether his passes to other players land at their feet or go off the pitch (field of play). His experience gained through many hours of practice inform him when he has made an error or when he is playing well. He can adapt his technique according to the results because he sees where his passes or shots on goal finish-up.

We know it takes the world's most successful people about 10,000 hours to get to the top of their field and Beckham’s level of expertise. Be that in sport or in business. This means that people like Bill Gates, David Beckham or sports stars like Maria Sharipova will have invested in the region of 10 years hard work, focus and sacrifice to win-through to achieve recognisable success.

Mastering technique requires much dedication. Yet, perhaps equally importantly, we need to understand the rules of the landscape we operate in. Choosing to specialise and become masters of our career attributes, talents and gifts means we must understand, visualise and respect the confines of our professional discipline. This is why we use the word ‘discipline’ to describe an occupation or skill in a sport.

Far from cramping our style and reducing our choices, limiting our peripheral vision helps us to concentrate our attention, effort and time into becoming proficient at what we do best. There will always be people who would rather taste a wide variety in their career choices before they settle down to focus on one thing.

However, after experiencing the peaks and troughs of my own career journey – once I discovered my own career passion - coupled with 15 years of coaching others along their career journeys, I can safely say that it is the people who knuckle-down sooner into their own rhythm in the confines of their preferred field who tend to reap the greatest rewards and look happiest. Limiting our choice, focussing our attention and pouring our energies in a specific field make our decisions far easier and career so much more resilient to the inevitability of change in the 21st Century labour market.


Following the global financial crisis of 2008 earning a sustainable livelihood has become much more about finding a wage than building a sense of career. We see the phrase ‘career resilience’ used to describe how important it is for personal survival to be able to evolve from one skill-set to another in order that we find work that puts food on the table. Yet deep-down, I see the workers who master their talents as being the most resilient, the most happy and the better equipped to face the ever-changing work landscape. They are also the most employable.


My advice, therefore?  If you wish to excel, ‘learn to swim’ in the confines of your own field. Invest many hours in mastering your skills and polishing your talent. This is one reason why the artisan craftsmen and women I see are so in demand and always have a sparkle in their eye. That way, you stand more chance of being master of your own destiny and eating whilst many others go hungry.
Here are 5 words that will help you along the way:

  1. ‘Discipline’ – it takes a lot to focus your mind on a particular goal worth striving for. Unless your goals are worth devoting yourself to, the discipline will never come.
  2. ‘Control’ – Sometimes, alongside ‘Discipline’, we have to control our thoughts, actions, emotions and thirsts for the temptations that might thwart our progress.
  3. ‘Denial’ – often great plans are undone by refusing to acknowledge the reality, even when we can see why we’re failing as clear as day.
  4. ‘Sacrifice’ – Along with the many temptations that risk distracting us, we have to give-up some of our favourite indulgences like TV, crappy food, unhelpful friendships and delusions if we are going to fulfil our potential.
  5. ‘Opportunity’ – Having honed all of our talents and skills and polished our gifts to a bright sparkle, none of the investment of time, effort and dedication is worth a bean unless we are able to recognise the opportunities to excel that come our way.


Step-back for a moment and look at your work/life plans. Can you see your metaphorical ‘swimming pool’? Can you visualise the shape and form of the guiding constraints of the particular field you wish to specialise in? Have you disciplined your technique through many hours of practice so that you know exactly when your technique is great and you’re performing well? Give your potential a chance, zero-in your focus, choose your goals well and polish your devotion.

Strange as it may seem, the truly outstanding talents who walk alongside us in this multi-faceted, diverse, complex and decision-laden world, know better than anyone does the confines of their own fields. And that is exactly the reason they came to shine so brilliantly.

Happy swimming!!