But the concept that one’s skills are only applicable to a particular type of job, in a single industry or sector, is ridiculous. Once you’ve written your infomercial, you can find great opportunities in a lot of different places. A computer programmer who likes to sell doesn’t have to resign himself to days at the office looking at a screen. His target-rich environment could include sales, consumer testing, even teaching at a college.
You need to do your homework to figure out your target-rich environment. This takes some research online and talking with others to make sure. Keep asking yourself, “Am I looking in the right places?” Look again at the list you made of who you work best with. Where do people like that work? Is it in a quiet office or a rambunctious, wide- open space—or in a country house? What would work for you? That’s your target-rich environment.
It took my good friend Rick almost thirty years to realize that his target-rich environment was bigger than he thought. During high school, Rick played drums with a bunch of guys who ended up becoming the well-known rock band The Tragically Hip. Rick put his drums aside, pursued mining engineering, completed a master’s degree, and then worked in international mining companies. Even though he had landed in an industry that appeared to be the right fit for his qualifications, it didn’t feel right. “All those years, it was always about the job,” Rick told me. “It was never about who I am or about finding a place where I’d really fit in.”
Rick left mining and came to me. He was being recruited by Canadian banks, and he didn’t want to make the same mistake as before. Rick was finally ready to figure out where to find a true fit. It wasn’t easy; in fact, you’ll remember that he was the one who told me that the idea of finding the right fit initially scared him. “My God, I thought as I started to answer the four questions,” he recalled. “I should have continued to play drums in a rock and roll band.… It honestly freaked me out a bit.”
After his infomercial was complete, Rick knew that he needed to find a fit where he could more fully use his strengths in dealing with people and developing relationships. He made the choice to accept a job in investment banking. “I used to think I was a miner who happens to do investment banking; now I know I’m an investment banker who likes mining but is much happier at the relationship side of things. I love dealing with the clients and help- ing them out,” said Rick. “I’m telling you, I have never been happier in my life or more at peace with myself.”
Rick’s narrow view of who he was restricted his choices of where to look for job opportunities. It meant that he had ended up working as an engineer in the mining industry because that was his “title.” He admitted that he kept learning in his job to add value so he could get the next mining job. After Rick developed his infomercial, he finally understood his target-rich environment—which for him extended beyond mining. And now, working with people who understand him, Rick is happy and finally feels, after thirty years, that he fits in.