How to find meaning in work with executive coach Jerry Colonna

If your career — or your life — isn’t going the way you’d planned, it might be time for a reboot.

Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up is a new book by former venture capitalist and current leadership expert Jerry Colonna, whose coaching company Reboot.io helps individuals, entrepreneurs, teams, and organizations learn how to lead, work together, and achieve their potential.

Jerry Colonna

The book itself focuses on growing your leadership skills by, as the title suggests, growing up — that is, understanding what it takes to move past the fears and habits we collected in childhood and become a truly mature adult.  That comes from understanding how to use the skills of adulthood to build your career, improve your relationships and lead a life that reflects your core values.

As Colonna writes, in Reboot: “I didn’t set out to write a book about growing up. But, as those who’ve attempted to get their thoughts down on paper know, the true nature of this book revealed itself after I’d begun the excavations behind a simple question: What do I believe to be true about work, leadership, and how we may live our lives? The simplicity of the answer startled me: I believe that better humans make better leaders. I further believe that the process of learning to lead well can help us become better humans. By growing to meet the demands of the call to leadership, we’re presented with the chance to finally, fully, grow up.”

I had the opportunity to ask Jerry Colonna three questions about his work and insights, in which he explains why chasing “meaning” is like watching for a shooting star, why you need to understand your character before you know your true strengths, and how building your skills can increase your opportunities.

What’s your best advice for finding meaning in work?

Finding “meaning” can be a little like staring into the sky, trying to catch a glimpse of a shooting star. The best way to catch a star is to relax your gaze and let your peripheral vision do the work. Similar, relax the grip trying to find a company or position that has “meaning” and, instead, focus on extracting meaning from every position and every job you might encounter. Even the work that seems the most meaningless can be a source of growth; it can teach us how to respond to boredom, for example. Or how to learn something from every encounter with every person you meet. In this way, all work becomes “meaningful.”

How can a person conduct radical self-inquiry to improve their career prospects?

By understanding, with compassion and skill, how you are wired, characterologically, you’ll come to know better your deepest strengths as well the ways you hold yourself back. In this way, you’ll move towards leadership regardless of your position and role.

What has being a successful venture capitalist taught you about career coaching?

Two things: First, that another opportunity is always just around the corner so don’t stress over each position. And second, focus on enhancing your skills and your growth as a person, your growing into your adulthood, and your career opportunities will follow. Remember that better humans make better leaders and so, if you’d like to advance in your career, focus on growing as a person.

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Nicole Dieker is a full-time freelance writer. Her work regularly appears on Bankrate, Lifehacker, The Write Life and numerous other sites. She is the author of Frugal and the Beast: And Other Financial Fairy Tales. This article is sponsored by Haven Life Insurance Agency.

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC17DTC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. In New York, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas, 100139527.

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