Why Professional Titles Don’t Really Matter (Anymore)

Keyboard with Like and Love KeysWhat do you love?

Really, my heart wants to know what you love. When you move past the obvious like “I love my family” or “I love my friends,” where do you go next?

Answering the question of what I love has been a bit difficult for me as long as I can remember. I say that I’m not a “true believer” in or zealot about anything. I think that my family and friends would have you believe that I’m always diligent and clear about what I love. And, I wish that was true.

When I feel love for something, it’s remarkable and is a sign for me to pay attention because it just doesn’t happen that often. What I love is becoming more and more synonymous for what I want or choose to have and experience in my life.

Tying Yourself Down with a Traditional Title

As I was talking with my mom the other day about my career, she mentioned that she doesn’t remember me ever wanting to be/do anything specific like becoming a teacher, a doctor, or a lawyer when I was a child. The only thing I was passionate about was school and learning. And, I admitted that was true. I would sit for hours reading books and loved studying and figuring out my homework.

So, what does someone who doesn’t have a clear view or connection to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” do?

In my case, I knew that I wanted to go to college by the time I was 12. So, my adolescent mind was clear that I needed to have an answer to that question. So, I decided that pursuing a career in “business” would be the best bet. “Business” did not feel as confining as more traditional professional titles like lawyer, fire fighter, or bull rider.

Last night, I watched the movie, The Longest Ride, based on the book by Nicholas Sparks and the male lead’s character is a bull rider. So, you may encounter some more bullish metaphors as I go along! My astrological sun sign is the Taurus. So, it’s like I’m paying homage to sometimes being the proverbial bull in the china shop.

Bucking the Confines of Traditional Labels

Of course, being a bull rider never occurred to me. But, the mother of the male lead in that movie talked about how her son broke his arm trying to ride a calf when he was like 5. Some people, like this character, know at an early age what they want to do. (By the way, the movie is a surprisingly good rom-drama).The Longest Ride Bull Riding Scene

If you’re like me and never really had a career passion that drove you or have gotten to the point of not knowing what you want to do with the next phase of your career, keep reading.

Where has the choice of “business” led me over the course of the past 18 years of my professional life? I’ve mostly done business and technology consulting work, experienced the sweet release of going back to graduate school and being a student again, and have been on a peculiar and unexpected path that landed me in the professional world of marketing.

My current title is Content Marketing Manager, but I realized this week more clearly than ever, that despite the fact that I wanted and chose this title, it doesn’t really mean anything to me. In fact, the meaning of titles has decline spectacularly over the past decade or so as people have felt free to make up their own professional labels or as we’ve encountered folks who don’t have the competency to match their very impressive titles.

Knowing What You Love Matters More

The reason why my title doesn’t really mean anything to me is that I’ve never identified with being a marketer. My nature is NOT to identify with any specific professional role. I shared my conundrum with my colleague this week. What I explained to her is that I love beauty, aesthetic, design, and the flow of well written words.Sign of What You Love Matters

Her response was that what I love happens to support the marketing function within an organization. I paused for a moment to recognize the wisdom of her observation and words and was like “hmmmm,” that makes sense.

This same woman recommended that I watch The Longest Ride. I can say that I truly love and appreciate the wisdom, thoughtfulness, and fun that she brings to my life.

Committing to the journey of identifying what you love is a path that can lead you to professional work that can help pay the bills and represents different levels of alignment to what you appreciate and want to express in your life.

There are other factors that influence the best work fit, but I now see that the point about what you love is critical. I’ve decided that one of my new titles is Chief of What Matters Officer (CWMO).

Recently, I learned that I LOVE this all-women Afro-Brazilian drumming band and known as Batalá. I’m going to do my best to join the band once it’s open for new membership again. Have I ever played a drum before in my life? No. Am I uncertain of my talent and ability to play a drum? Yes! But, I love the fun and joy the group creates. And, I don’t love very easily. So, I gotta try!

This band is one of the coolest things you’ve ever seen, right???

So, I ask you again, what do you love?
…and how is what you love expressed through your work/life?

Please share your comments below…

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net: Love Like Keys (Stuart Miles ) and Sign Posts (Anankkml), with customization of “What You Love Matters,” courtesy of moi(me).

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