4 Keys to a Fulfilling Career (and Life)

Baby Francis was struggling to breathe from pneumonia when he arrived at the Mbarara hospital in Uganda in 2018. Saving Francis’ life depended on him receiving oxygen, requiring a stable electricity supply. In a country though, where power cuts are frequent, life or death is a roll of the electricity dice.

Francis was the first child to receive life-saving treatment using an oxygen system designed by FREO2 Foundation Australia. FREO2 Foundation is supporting remote health centres without reliable electricity to provide oxygen, a life-saving treatment for children with pneumonia or newborns with trouble breathing.

Pneumonia is the biggest killer of children under five in the world, with most deaths stemming from lower income countries.

I’m sharing this story because I’m excited to be working with the FRE02 team on a consultancy basis, helping them align vision, values, culture, and build people capability to support their next stage of growth.

I’ve loved working with the team so far. When Lizzie Webb, FREO2’s Board Chair said yes to an interview, I said YAY! 

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With a degree in environmental engineering, Lizzie has held CEO roles at Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Australia and more recently at Kindred Spirits Enterprises, working with Indigenous entrepreneurs in the emerging native botanicals industry. Lizzie also has voluntary director roles with various social enterprises and non-profit organisations. Lizzie’s passions lie with early stage social enterprise, community development, climate change, and more recently board governance. She shared I’ve never seen what I do as a career – I think about it in terms of “making a useful contribution to the world.

For many, COVID has been the catalyst for us to rethink where we’re at in our careers, what’s important to us and how we can create a more balanced and meaningful life. 

I reckon Lizzie is the gold standard for living life with integrity and purpose. These 4 keys have enabled Lizzie to stay true to her path in leading a fulfilling life.

1. Know your values 

A few years into her working life Lizzie realised I was missing some important elements to my work day. One was working on projects that resonated with my personal values.

Her advice was be clear on what your values are, know how you like to work, and what having balance means to you. Lizzie asks herself:

  • What is important to me?
  • How do I want to experience my day and week?

Lizzie said My values shape how I live my life. My process of self-reflection is active and important to me.  Living your values creates meaning in your life.  We’re all making choices for how we experience life – whether we like those choices or not. Feeling fulfilled doesn’t come from hoping, waiting, and wishing for life to be better. Create the future you want to experience and be part of Lizzie added.

2. Work for an organisation that is aligned to your purpose

Lizzie said When EWB opened in Melbourne in 2003 I knew immediately it was an organisation I wanted to volunteer time with. I did that for 6 months and there was no question whether that was the right thing to do. I knew it was incredibly important work to me and hopefully for all of the community organisations we worked with.

She went on to say I’ve never had a 5 or 10 year plan but from the early days, I’ve used a framework that’s helped me be clear on the work I really want to do. Lizzie asks herself:

  • What am I passionate about?
  • What is the work I’m interested in?
  • What is the work that’s important to be done?
  • What are my skills?
  • Where can I make the greatest impact?
  • Where is a work environment where I will thrive?

She said, then it’s about finding organisations that intersect between these three areas. This process has given me the confidence to re-evaluate the work I do and the organisations I work with.

3. Know how your personal values translate into your professional work

My values drive how I like to work and experience work Lizzie said. One of Lizzie’s core values is love/care in relationships. She went on to share I always try to collaborate and work with people as holistically as possible. (People are so much more than their role). 

Tell others what you care about and find out what they care about

In quizzing Lizzie on how she engages and inspires others on the journey ahead, I communicate my enthusiasm, personal commitment, and my reasons for being involved. Then I create options for people to find their own pathway, which is about aligning what they care about and their skills to what needs to be achieved.

Connection, care, and common ground build trust

The people I work with most effectively – I think I’ll spend the rest of my career working with; they’re very good friends. And you’ve got to manage both personal and professional sides to a relationship, especially when it comes to performance/feedback conversations.

4. Define your own markers of success

Living your principles and values is a compass for creating your meaningful and satisfying life by design. Lizzie says I’m not financially rich but I’m rich in lots of other ways.

How do you define success for yourself?

It’s clear that Lizzie stays true to her markers of success as her leadership journey continues to unfold. I’m not holding out for anything. I try to make my contribution count every day. I’m very grateful to have been given opportunities and support to do this.

Bringing it all together

What is your gold standard for living life with integrity and purpose?

On average we spend a third of our life at work. Staying in a role you’re unhappy in is a choice. Staying in a role/organisation for the money is a choice. Finding a work environment that is congruent with your values and principles is a choice. Your choices – whether empowering or disempowering – are contributing to your levels of satisfaction and fulfillment.

What could you change or pay more attention to, to live your life in congruence with your values, purpose, and markers of success? I’d love to know.

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