“Uniqueness is the source of our greatness, not how much money we make, how many people know our name, or how much power we have. It is that unique contribution that makes us great.”
How do you go from doing work that makes you money to doing work that fulfills you—and could even be called your dream job?
To help you answer this question I’m speaking with Ken Coleman. Ken is a career expert, as well as the host of The Ken Coleman Show, where he helps people discover not just what they were born to do, but how to turn their dream career into a reality. He explores this even further in his new book, Paycheck to Purpose, which I’m reading right now.
Today, Ken returns to the podcast to talk about how to love your craft, make a unique contribution to the world that only you can make, and his step-by-step process for bringing your work into alignment with your passion and mission.
- Why the concept of a “dream job” has become such a cliche—and how bad jobs and our cynicism toward the idea of work hold us back.
- Why there are more jobs, career paths, and dream jobs in the “sweet spot” than you probably think—and the connection between dream jobs and entrepreneurship.
- Why people who believe they have nothing to offer others are operating out of fear—and how to break that cycle and create opportunities.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
If you enjoyed this post and received value from this episode, please leave a quick comment below and SHARE with your friends. Thank YOU for paying it forward! :^)
COMMENT QUESTION: What is your big takeaway? Write it in the comments below.
Hal Elrod: Hello and welcome to the Achieve Your Goals Podcast. This is your host, Hal Elrod, and thank you so much for being here today. I really appreciate it. Today is in conversation with the one and only Ken Coleman about his new book, From Paycheck to Purpose: The Clear Path to Doing Work You Love. And the book is titled so perfectly, taking somebody from a paycheck where they're just doing the work that makes them money but they don't feel fulfilled, they don't look forward to going to work each day. How do you go from that to literally doing work that fills you up, that what you would call your dream job? And Ken is a career expert. He's the national radio host of the Ken Coleman Show. And on that show, he helps people discover what they were born to do, and he provides practical steps to make their dream job a reality. The Ken Coleman Show is an old-school, color-driven show that helps listeners who are stuck in a job they hate or searching for something more out of their career. And this new book, Paycheck to Purpose, I got the copy in the mail a few days ago. I’m on Page 40. It's fantastic, and you're going to hear about the book today, and more importantly, the content that will help you to go from where you are. If you are not doing work that absolutely fills you up and that you love to finding work with real meaning from paycheck to purpose. I think you're going to get a lot out of today's episode.
Before we dive in with Ken, I want to just take a minute to thank our sponsor, Organifi. And if you're a listener of the show, you know that I'm a big fan of Organifi. I've used their products now for six years. In fact, since right around the time I met Ken in 2015, I think it's when I started using Organifi, maybe a little bit before that and they make some of the highest quality whole foods supplements. And if you think about it, most people, myself included, I used to never look at the actual ingredients on the vitamins that I took, right? It's like, “Oh, this is vitamin C.” Well, where's the vitamin C derived from? Is it derived from nature or from acerola berries and camu camu like from actual whole foods? Or is that a synthetic compound made in a lab such as an absorbing acid, which is the most popular form of vitamin C, and it's the least healthy form of vitamin C? So, anyway, with all that said, Organifi makes whole-food-based supplements, things to give you more energy, adapt to stress, give you more mental clarity, and last but not least, to sleep much better. Head over to Organifi.com/Hal and then if you find something there that you love like I take their protein powder every day, their red juice, their green juice, I take their gold at night to go to sleep, use the code HAL at checkout and you will get an additional 20% off of your entire order. So, Organifi.com/Hal and use the code HAL at checkout. And I hope you find something there that you love.
And without further ado, let's talk about how you can go from paycheck to purpose with the one and only Ken Coleman.
Hal Elrod: Ken Coleman, long time no talk, no see, brother. How are you doing?
Ken Coleman: Doing well. Thanks for having me.
Hal Elrod: Oh, it's a pleasure. I think you had me on, I think was it EntreLeadership quite a few years ago. Yeah?
Ken Coleman: Yeah. Love your story. You got one of the most amazing stories. I had a lot of fun.
Hal Elrod: I appreciate that, man. It's been a while since we spoke, and I'm excited because you just had a book come out mode right now, right? You had a book come out on what, Tuesday?
Ken Coleman: Yeah. So, we're a week in and now it's out there. Fly little bird, right? You work so hard on something and then it sits and you got all these different components to it and then you can't wait for it to get out and now it’s out. So, that's always fun.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. Well, it's funny and I don't think you realize this until you become an author, you think that writing the book is the work, right, and it's only half of it. And then when the book comes out, it's like nobody knows about it unless you really just pound the pavement, go to work, and get it out there in a big way. So, it's like in some ways phase two of the work begins once that book's out there. So, I just got a copy in the mail a few days ago. I'm on Page 40 on stage two here. Love the book so far. I love the title, From Paycheck to Purpose. In fact, just let's start there. Tell me about your new book.
Ken Coleman: Well, the four words there that are the title, those words really represent the heart of the book because those two keywords, paycheck and purpose, represent the raw emotions around work that every human has, if you think about it. So, first, we work to provide, right, to provide for ourselves, provide for our family, depending on what our relationship situation is. But then more than provision, we all long to make a contribution. We all long to make a difference. And that's purpose. So, from paycheck to purpose is a challenge in the title to challenge the worldview of work, which is predominantly that you work to live. And I believe we live to work. I'm not in any way espousing workaholism and putting all your identity into your work and paycheck but what I am saying is, is that there are two areas of purpose in a human being, relational and professional. And if you don't get that, you are destined for work, that at best would be, "Well, it's good. It's okay,” and you'll never see the terrific meaning, the potential to experience love at work, the idea of loving a craft, loving the work, and seeing creation in it no matter how technical the work. And so, from paycheck to purpose is a challenge that people will begin to work not just from paycheck but also to make that unique contribution that they were created to make.
Money and meaning, income and impact, it's possible, and to be honest with you, I think we're responsible to do it because if we believe that work is purposeful and that we were created with unique talent, with passion, and with a sense of mission, I can unpack that in a little bit then we must also understand that we were created to fill a unique role in our work. That means somebody out there needs us to show up and be the best version of ourselves. And so, it is in our unique role, our unique talent, our unique passion, our unique sense of mission that greatness takes place. Uniqueness is the source of our greatness, not how much money we make, how many people know our name, or how much power we have. It is that unique contribution that makes us great.
Hal Elrod: Uniqueness is the source of our greatness. I love that. So, let's play devil's advocate for a second if you're listening to this. I feel like dream job is a cliché. Those are like two words that you put them together becomes cliche, right? And I think some people roll their eyes. In my keynote, I used to open up with Oprah Winfrey's quote that, "The greatest adventure you can have is to live the life of your dreams,” something like that. And I say most people roll their eyes at this like, "Life of my dreams? I'm just trying to survive. I'm just trying to pay the bills.” And to me, that's what I think that a lot of people I would imagine you hear dream job, it's like, “Come on, man. A dream job? Like that's not real. That's fairy tale.” So, I'd love for you to kind of like what are your thoughts on that? And I know you lived this. You went from not feeling purposeful in your work to creating the job of your dreams, finding your dream job. What are your thoughts or what would you say to someone that says, “I don't buy it. Dream job, I'm not buying it.”?
Ken Coleman: Well, I would ask him, why do they feel that way? Why do they think it's a fairy tale? You said it in your speech. Why do people roll their eyes at that? Where is that coming from? I know the answer. What's your answer to that? You're the one that said it on stage. Let's unpack this. I'm fine with the cynicism. Why do we feel that?
Hal Elrod: Yeah. I think that most people they've never had a dream job. They've done work for a paycheck that they didn't really enjoy, that they felt stuck in, and I think there's a good possibility they don't know anybody that had anything different, right? So, it's hard for us to imagine life being any different than it's always been.
Ken Coleman: I agree with your answer. So, then I would look at that person and I would say, “I can tell from your answer, if you're rolling your eyes about the dream job or you think that this fantasy thing that only a few lucky fortunate souls in the world get to, then I can tell you your experience in your environment has shaped you.” Because how I define a dream job is very simple. It's when you're on purpose. You're working on purpose. The dream job is when you use what you do best, your talent, to do work that you love, your passion, to produce results that matter to your mission. Now, watch what's happening. The reason that's a dream is because you're operating at high levels of proficiency. You're super talented. I mean, you're not frustrated because you're doing something you're really good at. Secondly, you actually love the work, so there's high emotion, high devotion. And third, it's creating results that you have a direct connection to your values. Your heart again is going, “I care deeply about these results.” That's the sweet spot. And when we use the analogy, the sweet spot is the most simple way to describe this. If you've ever hit a baseball or a tennis ball or a golf ball on the sweet spot of the club or the racket or the bat, then you barely feel contact with it and it gets maximum performance. It goes faster, farther, more accurate, the whole nine yards. That's the whole deal here.
So, the dream job is not this fairy tale description. It's actually really meat and potatoes. You can understand it and this is exactly what it looks like, feels like, sounds like. And it means that you're on purpose. So, for anyone who's going to go, “Oh, I don't know about that,” it's because you were never taught to dream. You were never even taught that, hey, there is purpose in work. Work isn't a four-letter word that we just do to be able to bring in a paycheck, but that is the predominant worldview. So, I'm not surprised by that reaction or would not be surprised by that reaction but here's the deal. Left to their own devices, they would have to wrestle with my statement, which would be nobody ever taught you. Nobody ever teaches any human being to, at some point in their life, wander in the quiet of their mind and heart, “Why am I here? What should I do with my life?” That's indisputable. So, where does that come from? But we're souls. We are spiritual. We long to make a difference. We long to make a contribution. So, purpose, our why, is in fact undeniable that we have a why and we get to choose. And here's the deal, inside that sweet spot, Hal, where you use what you do best (talent), to do work you love (passion), to produce results that matter to you (mission). I got great news for folks. There are multiple jobs, career paths, and even dream jobs in that sweet spot. It's not the silver bullet, “Oh, which one is it? Which do I choose?” It doesn't have to be so scary, so mythical. It's actually right there in front of us and we get to choose.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. Well, that's probably what I like most about the book and, again, I'm on page 40. I've scanned the books. I scanned the entire thing, every bold heading all the way through to really understand what the book's about. What I love about this is, as you just kind of said, it's not some fairy tale. It's systematic. It's step-by-step, identifying, gaining clarity and what your talents are, what your passion is, what your mission is, getting clear on how that aligns with a dream job, what that would look like, and then systematically taking steps to get there. And that's what I love about the book is it's like it isn't just a bunch of stories and just vague concepts and ideas. It's like do this followed by this, followed by this, right? And this is the clear path to go from just earning a paycheck to living a life of purpose and fulfillment. So, I want to ask you. So, I think one of the biggest hurdles to a job change because for most people, they're usually going to change a job. Some people might be unemployed, right, to go into a dream job but most people I think it's going to be a job change or even a job pivot but one of the biggest hurdles is getting qualified. It can feel overwhelming like I don't even know where to begin. But there are four major questions that help you make a plan. That's what you talk about in the book. Can you explain a few of those?
Ken Coleman: Yeah. And I love the way you ask the question because you really captured the emotion here. Getting qualified, stage two, is in many ways the most intimidating stage of the seven stages, on our journey. It's very terrifying because of what you just said. I don't know where to begin. So, here's what we do. There are four qualifying questions we unpack in the book. Very simple. The first one is the education question. What do I need to learn to do what I want to do? Now, here's what's unfortunate, Hal. Most people immediately when they hear that question, they go, “Oh gosh, I can't get a degree. I don't have time for a degree. I don’t have money for a degree. I'm paying off debt. I got three kids, four dogs, two goats, and a llama. I don't have time for this.” So, we begin to say, “Oh my gosh, this is insurmountable. Well, sorry. No dream for me.” That's really the conversation that happens in an instant and education no longer in 2021 for a lot of fields, in fact, an increasing number of fields, education no longer looks like a four-year degree or a graduate-level degree. The fact of the matter is, is that as we see the workforce completely evolving, in fact, I believe it was a week ago, Hal, the Wall Street Journal ran a headline that said, “Help Really Wanted,” was the headline in Wall Street Journal. And then the article went on to say that companies are now dropping background checks, education requirements, even experience.
We're in a great arms race right now, if you will, for talent. And the data keeps showing. In fact, the September jobs report came out 4.4 million people left their jobs in September. That's 100,000 more than in August, which was the previous record. There is a great game of musical chairs happening. We're seeing it here at Ramsey Solutions too. No one's immune to it. And so, when we talk about getting qualified, we have to say, “Wait a second, what do I really need to learn? Would a certification or an online training class or some type of training that is non-degree-related, will it qualify me?” That's the education question. Number two, what do I need to do to do what I want to do? We're talking experience here. This is the experience question. I get calls all the time on the Ken Coleman Show, Hal, where they go, “Ken, I’m frustrated. I need help.” “Okay. What's the deal?” “Well, Ken, I keep applying for all these jobs that keep telling me I need experience. Well, how in the world am I supposed to get experience, Ken, if they won't give me a chance?” Like, they've cracked the code with these idiots like these companies are the village idiots. And I laugh kind of like you did. I go, “Wait a second, you're applying for jobs that are too high up the ladder. You need to lower your sights right now because ladder climbing is about climbing properly on the rungs.”
And so, almost every time they want something that's higher up the ladder that they're not qualified for, they don't have the experience, and they're not willing to put in the time to make the sacrifices to get the experience. So, what do I need to do? Get really clear on the experience you need to get on the ladder. Remember, getting on the ladder is the goal here and you get qualified. Number three question, what is that going to cost me? Based on the first two answers, there's a cost. There's always a financial cost. Let's get clear on what that financial cost is. This is the economic question. And so, now that we know the cost, we look at our current reality and now we go, “Okay. This is what it's going to cost me. This is my financial reality. That's going to allow me to answer the final question, the expectation question, which is how long is this going to take? And so, now we've got a plan, 18 months, 24 months, 36 months, 48 months. Hey, folks, it took me seven years to step in Ramsey Solutions, three more years paying my dues to get the dream job. I don't want to hear it's going to take too long. I did it 10 years. I'm not saying your journey is going to be in 10 years, but I don't want to hear you whining about. All right. Because the bottom line is I told my wife when we set out on this journey that we unpack in the book, “I think it would be five to seven years before I catch a major break.” And it was seven-and-a-half years when Dave Ramsey called.
So, quick review, the four questions that will reveal the answers that will then create a plan for you and when you have a plan, Hal, you're not so scared. This is the unknown, the education question, what do I need to learn? The experience question, what do I need to do? The economic question, how much is it going to cost? And then finally, the expectation question, how long will it take? Those questions will yield the answers that you need to build a plan now. It's really no excuse because you can see there is a way.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. And I think a big part of it is just that mindset of anything another human being has done is evidence that I can do it too and a lot of people want those immediate results. So, it is the question of how long is it going to take? And then you mentioned how long it took you to the seven-and-a-half years, another three years to get the dream job, and there is that old adage, it takes 10 years to become an overnight success. And then the question is, well, what do you care enough about? What's worthwhile to you that you'd be willing to dedicate 10 years of your life to really experience the fruits of your labor? So, I always tell my kids too, "On the day of victory, no fatigue is felt.” So, I'm throwing all these cliche quotes and phrases right now. But so true on the day of victory, once you wake up and you're like, “I did it. I'm living it.” It doesn't matter how long it took. It's always worth it.
Ken Coleman: I want to echo that. It’s always worth it.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. It's always worth it.
Ken Coleman: Always worth it. You step into a place where you are doing what you were born to do, there's something about it. I don't know how to describe it. It's not like some I'm walking around and I'm lighter than everybody else, all this other garbage. I mean, I have rough days just like anybody else. But what it is, it is an absolute. It's like a magnet that just kind of pulls you in and you realize there's a deep connection between everything you do and everything in your life. And so, you go, “Hey, look, I just know that I'm doing what I'm supposed to do. It is a call.” And I really think the way to describe it is it's a true sense of significance. I was significant before I ever figured out what I was about to do because humans are all significant. But when we live in significance, meaning I'm experiencing great significance with the connection to the work that I do and the results of the work, and I see how it infiltrates my personal life and everything else, it's just the way I get great significance in being a great husband or a great father, at least trying to be. And so, I think it's the same feeling. It's a sense of calm and significance to go, "Hey, I am who I am supposed to be.”
Hal Elrod: And it's also waking up and doing something that you enjoy doing so much that’s self-fulfilling that it doesn't really work, right? Like, when we say it's worth it, what's more worth it than going from waking up five days a week and dreading, “Huh, I got to do this thing I don't want to do so I can get that paycheck,” to waking up and going, “Oh my gosh, I'm so blessed that I get to do this work.”
Ken Coleman: You know what, I want to jump in here. You said what a million people have said, and I say this with all respect. I think it's important that we delineate this. The way I define being on purpose is when you use what you do best (your talent) to do work you love (your passion) to produce results that matter to you (mission). Here's the deal. This common phrase that you just kind of referenced if you do what you love, it doesn't feel like work. That's not true because I define work you love as passion. The root word of passion in Latin is pati, P-A-T-I, and the context by which it was used was not romantic or sexual in nature. It was to suffer. You are willing to suffer. And it was used as though there was a thirst that must be quenched. So, you must love the work. So, a great craftsman who is a furniture maker or a blacksmith, let me tell you something, they're working. Everything they do feels like work. It's hard. You've seen the hands on these guys? They got gnarled knuckles and scars everywhere, and they've got burns and all these things. It's hard work. I got to tell you something. Ask the team about my schedule the last two months. Let me tell you something. I'm working my butt off but I love the work. It's hard. I've had some hard days.
But here's the difference. I love the work regardless of how hard it is or how long I have to wait or dealing with rejection, dealing with failure. That's the struggle. That's what pati, it means to suffer, to suffer patience, to suffer persevere, to suffer failure or suffer rejection, all the things. Now, here's where it pays off. The mission piece. The mission piece is what's huge, and that's what keeps you coming back when the work is hard. So, there are days, Hal, where I have really, really hard days. But what keeps me coming back with the juice each morning is the mission. Not just that I love broadcasting or writing or speaking or coaching, but that I am in the transformation game. And no matter how hard my days are and some days they're really hard and really long, no matter how hard, I can always quickly remind myself, "Why am I doing what I'm doing?” It's for transformation. Two weeks ago, I had to be in here in the office at 4:50 in the morning or, I'm sorry, I said that wrong. It’s 5:25 in the morning. I had to get up at 4:15. I did a national media hit. I went all day, all day talking three hours of the show, whole nine yards. Got on a plane that night, flew to Los Angeles, got into Los Angeles in my hotel room at 12:15 a.m. Los Angeles time. That's 2:15 a.m. my time. At that point, I'd been up for 21 hours. That was a long day, Hal.
Hal Elrod: Sure.
Ken Coleman: That was a hard day. But you know what? It felt like work. Every second of that was work because I had to gut it out, get the energy, do podcast, do a show, coach people. But I did it. I stepped into it with joy, and I didn't gripe about it because of the mission. There are people, transformation on the other end of that. So, that's why I'm kind of interjecting here because I want people to understand. When I am talented, I'm going to be proficient and it's going to allow me to endure those hard days because I'm proficient at it but I also love the work and in the midst of those long, hard hours, whether it be starting a business, growing a business, chief, everything officer in a small business or whatever it is, working two or three jobs, going to school, getting trained for it. It's because of the love of the work and then the result of the work, the missional connection. That's what it's about. And that, by the way, is what fuels great men and women, whether you know about them or not. They love the work and they care deeply about the results, so therefore they stick with it. They go through the hard times. They will not quit because their heart is what's driving it.
Hal Elrod: Is there a correlation here between for someone that maybe they haven't had work that is what you're describing? Could parenting be a kind of a comparison where it's kind of like a parent does something they love their child so much, the mission is the result in raising the child, the impact, the transformation, as you talked about it, is there a correlation there?
Ken Coleman: Oh, you're absolutely right. You just described it. By the way, how can you not describe the heart of a parent's passion? Let me tell you something. I'm parenting three teenagers right now. It is hard. I never thought I'd say this but I would take three toddlers, by the way. We had three under three. Okay. And then three under four. I mean, it was tough. I'd take that every day of the week and twice on Sunday over teenagers. But here's the deal. I love my kids more than I love my own life. I’d die for my kids. Any parent would. So, yeah, that's exactly what it is. I love my kids so much that I will suffer their pain, suffer their disrespect, suffer their disobedience, whatever, suffer financial sacrifice. Whatever it is, why? Because they're my kids. And the result is raising them and giving them a launching pad into life.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, beautiful. Where does entrepreneurship fall within the concept of your dream job? Meaning, in other words, entrepreneurship rather than finding a dream job, going for a place for employment, creating your dream job, how does that correlate?
Ken Coleman: Yeah. It correlates perfectly. So, for the entrepreneur, if an entrepreneur comes to me and I get this call all the time, “Hey, Ken, I don’t want to work for myself. I don't want to be an entrepreneur but I just need help figuring out what the business is.” So, the first thing we're going to do is we're going to use the same Get Clear methodology. So, I want that entrepreneur to be very, very clear on the outset. What are you really talented at? Because when you get this business started, you will be the Chief Everything Officer. That's the nature of the game. But as the business grows, you're going to have to find a way to either delegate or eliminate things by automating things or by contracting some things out that aren't in your talents. They are average to below average for you and the quickest thing that'll kill a great entrepreneurial idea is when the entrepreneur tries to hang on too long into that chief everything officer role. So, we want them to be clear. What are you really, really good at? Because as the entrepreneur, you need to know that list of your top talents, not average talents. Not below average. You need to know but you need to say, “I'm not doing that for very long.” Here's why. Because that becomes the list, your talents become the list by which you say, "This is what I have to do for this company. I have to do this because this is my area of talent. So, this is what I'm going to focus on eventually.”
And then we look at passion. What's the work that you love? Well, again, you're the chief everything officer for a while but at some point, you got to get the point where you're spending 75% of your day as an entrepreneur or doing work you love because that's where you are in your sweet spot and you're going to deliver the best results. And then, of course, mission. What are the results that matter most to you? Again, every leader, CEO, business owner, sole proprietors got to know this stuff because, again, that's your sweet spot as the owner, as the leader of the organization. Now, so we get clear first so that they're aware, okay, this is my sweet spot and I'm not going to be able to stay in that as I started this thing but how quickly can I move into my sweet spot? That's what's going to give my business the best chance to thrive. And so, then we say, “Okay. What about the idea? Can I need help with ideas?” So, I think for the entrepreneur, there are clues in the same thing, talent, passion, image. There are clues to the type of business that you could start based on your talent. There are clues based on the type of work you love to do. There are clues on the results that fire you up.
And so, one of the things that's a simple concept for entrepreneurs to go, "Okay. Ken, I want to know if there's purpose in this launch, in this idea.” I would ask yourself these three questions. One, who are the people that I most want to help? Because businesses exist to solve problems or meet desire. It's really about a problem or desire. It's all business is. They either have a product or a service that solves a problem or fulfills a desire. So, you're looking at, "Who are the people I want to help?” and you get an idea because your heart is going to populate that, and then you go, “Okay. What's the problem or desire they have?” Then we want to get specific. And then we say, “Okay. What are the solutions to that problem or desire that I could get juiced about?” And when you get that little profile there, that's where great ideas come from because you've done the first exercise of awareness and there's going to be clues in your talent. There's going to be clues in your passion. There’ll be clues in your mission. And then ask those three questions and get all that out on one paper or whiteboard and let your eyes take that in and let your heart review it. And that's where the great ideas come for an entrepreneur.
Hal Elrod: Well said. So, to me, it's really the process of gaining clarity and going through a lot of these stages is going to apply, whether it's getting a dream job under somebody else's employment or starting your own, right?
Ken Coleman: That's right. That's exactly right.
Hal Elrod: So, in the book, you give seven. I mentioned that I love the step-by-step nature, and it's seven sequential stages for discovering and doing the work you were meant to do. We touched on stage one, getting clear on what you were born to do. Stage two, get qualified for the work that you want to do. And then can you run through the remaining five stages and just kind of what each one is and a little synopsis of each?
Ken Coleman: Yes. Stage one is get clear. Stage two is get qualified. Now, while I'm getting qualified in stage two, I can also be in stage three consecutively. Stage three is get connected. Connections are the commerce for opportunity. They’re the tickets to all the trains we want to get on in life, connections, connections, connections. And so, while we're getting qualified, we're getting connected so that we have opportunities that are waiting for us or are certainly very evident for us as soon as we're qualified. Now, that means opportunity comes our way. We choose. That’s stage four. We get started. Once we're in, now, we're starting. We're starting well. We're getting locked in focusing on the now. And then we start to cast an eye towards development growth. That's stage five, getting promoted. That's where we start to climb the ladder. Getting started is getting on the ladder. Getting promoted is climbing the ladder. You will eventually climb. You may switch ladders. Keep climbing. And you're going to eventually step into stage six, get the dream job. And again, dream job defined by, “I’m really talented at it, I really love it, and I'm producing results that have a deep personal connection.”
It's why I went from sports broadcasting to personal growth and transformative broadcasting. I had the talent. The talent was there in sports broadcasting of communication. The passion was there performing. But the mission was off. While I love sports talk and I think it's great, it was delivering the results of entertainment and that was missing from me. That wasn't enough. I wanted to deliver the result of equipping and encouraging people. And so, there's the shift. So, the dream job is defined by, “Hey, I'm now doing the work that I was absolutely created to do. I'm in alignment. I am on purpose and the income is there and now it's about impact.” And we're in stage seven consecutively. Stage seven is give yourself away. And this is the idea that after the success that you've achieved along the way and now you're in the dream job, you're no longer working just for your own enjoyment or the income. It is, in fact, about delivering much of those results that sets your heart on fire in the mission bucket. And so, it's about legacy and impact, and that is giving yourself away. When you begin to see your work and you don't even have to work anymore if you don't want to, but you begin to see your work, whether you need the income or not, as this is truly missional. I am giving myself away. I have interacted with and making the lives better of the people that I long to help. And we see true impact, and it changed the way we view our work. So, those are the seven stages.
Hal Elrod: You know, it's interesting. What it came up for me as you talked about that seventh stage, give yourself away even if you don't need the income, I think about some of the greats that are in transformational work, personal development like Jim Rohn and Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar, like these guys worked way past when they needed to financially like they were on a mission and their work was so meaningful, it fit all the buckets, right? They had the talent, they had the passion, and they were on a mission. And essentially, Jim Rohn, who is one of my greatest mentors, did the work that he did until, I mean, to my knowledge, until his last day on Earth, right?
Ken Coleman: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. He’s a great example. That’s exactly what it's all about. There was a higher calling on his work. It was about impact.
Hal Elrod: Yeah, I'm sure financially, he was set. I don't think he needed to work another day.
Ken Coleman: Oh, no, not at all.
Hal Elrod: He could’ve retired decades ahead of time.
Ken Coleman: Oh, sure.
Hal Elrod: But you think that's the beauty of what this book is all about, from paycheck to purposes. If you're working for a paycheck, you're going to get out of there as fast as you possibly can, right? You're going to retire as soon as you possibly can. And then what happens when most people retire? They end up going into depression and often don't live that long and it's like they got nothing else. You know, there's no mission, there's no purpose, there's no passion, et cetera. I want to dive in on a couple of these. So, we'll kind of continue where we're at. So, number three was get connected. So, one of the things I read in the book, you said that networking is different than connecting and that networking can feel gross, I think is what you said. How do we connect in the right way? Obviously, like you said, and I forget the words you just used earlier but that your ability to connect is kind of the key. You said something very eloquent that I didn't write down.
Ken Coleman: Oh, connections are the commerce of progress.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. So, how do we connect the right way?
Ken Coleman: Well, so the difference between networking and connecting is networking is an act. Connecting is an art. That's the difference. So, anybody can go to a networking event, get your sticker, and write your name on it. Slap it on your coat. And then you walk around the room and it's like speed dating on steroids. It's like you're in the room. I got to get a cocktail. I got to see who I can meet that can help me. And so, it really is like this vampire-like strategy. Suck what I can get out of somebody and then move on to my next victim. We've all been, by the way, victims of people like that. They’re so interested in you and they're talking to you the first 30 seconds you go, “Wow. Boy, this guy is very impressed with me.” And then he realizes quickly you can't help him and he starts looking over your left shoulder and right shoulder. That's happened. That’s happened to you.
Hal Elrod: I'm sure when I was younger, I was guilty of doing it, going to networking events.
Ken Coleman: And we've all been guilty of it. Absolutely. So, that's network. Connecting is what my introvert friends do so well. You ever watch introverts in a large room? They're the ones that tend to be on the wall in the corner having a deep conversation. They do it so well. Now, that's their default mode. I'm an extrovert, right? So, I walk in the room and it's like, “Wee,” and I'm bouncing into people right and left and I get great energy out of it. My introvert friends are de-energized having to do that. They're connectors by nature. And I give that example because I want people to understand, that's what I mean when I say connection. The introvert is not interested in moving around the room and meeting as many people as possible. The introvert at the end of the day, they get great energy when they just have a one-on-one conversation. That's connection. And by the way, what's really happening there is the art of relating. And do you know that relate is the root word of relationship? We know this, right, but we don't think about that. So, if relate is the root word of relationship, then a synonym for relate is connect. Because if I sit down with you, Hal, over a glass of wine or a cup of tea, whatever it is, we're sitting there and we begin to converse, and I want to get to know Hal or in this case, I want to get caught up on what Hal’s been up to. I'm asking questions. We're going back and forth. And it's somewhere in that conversation, you and I are going to find common points of interest, some experiences, trips, something, something, something.
And all of a sudden, I am relating to you. Hal's telling me story. I relate to that. I say something, Hal, you relate to me. And when we leave, we've truly connected. We've made a connection on the head level and the heart level. That's what we're talking about. And so, this is true conversation, true connect. Now, let's translate this into moving up. If connections are commerce for progress, meaning they buy your tickets to the next thing and the next thing and the next thing. Then instead of networking, trying to see what I can get from somebody, why don't I start connecting and see what I can learn from somebody? And great people, successful people who are healthy and this is most of them, they will pour into you if you ask the right way. So, you want to get around people that may be doing the same thing you're doing and they're making some good progress. You may want to get around some people that are ahead of you, doing what you want to do and you say, “Hey, here's a deal. I admire you. I want to be where you are. I want to get with you. I believe you've got some knowledge that I need, and I believe you can give me some wisdom on some things if you give me 20 minutes of your time, 30 minutes of your time. Let me tell you something. I'll make it count. I'm coming with a pencil and paper, and I'm going to have prepared questions because I believe that I need to sit with you.”
Now, let me tell you something. People go, “Oh, I don't want to do that, Ken. I have nothing to offer.” Yeah, you do. That approach right there, humility and hunger makes that person feel valuable because they go, "Hal wants to sit with me and learn? Hal’s hungry. He’s humble. I want to pour into Hal.” And so, you've made them feel valuable, thus offering them value. We've got to understand that but we have so much fear about asking the most underutilized question in the world, and that is, will you help me? But instead of saying, “Will you help me?” what you really need to be thinking is, "Will you teach me? Will you guide me? Will you direct me?” And so, when I sit down with somebody like that, I ask them lots of questions and I get their knowledge and wisdom. I say, “Hey, who else do I need to talk to?” Now, there are some places that I need to go get some training or do some observation or I could get some good experience and now they're going to tell you that many times they'll connect you. And this is how we turn connection into an art form. And this is how opportunities come to you and knock on your door.
You know, these people that you hear them say, “Oh, I just can't catch a break,” I can tell you right now they have no idea how to connect or if they do, they stop connecting and they've stopped putting themselves around the right people in the right places. That's what I mean by connection. When I'm in the right places, I meet the right people. When I'm around the right people, they point me, direct me, sometimes put me in the right places and this becomes a cycle of intentionality. And, Hal, when I'm in the right place, the right time happens. But I can tell you this, if I'm not in the right place, the right time cannot and will not happen.
Hal Elrod: Well, what I love about what you just shared is the simplicity of how you can add value for somebody by making them feel significant. And you use humility and hunger. And I think that's where I’ll struggle is and you even said it, right, is like I have nothing to offer them. Well, you have your genuine, sincere appreciation for who they are, for what they've done, for the value they can offer to you, right? And it's also a numbers game, right? You approach humility and hunger and you approach people, person 1 might say no, person 2 might, right? It might take you a few people to where you get someone that's going to sit down with you, right? It's always a numbers game. So, why is it that even if you know and, I guess, this could be a general question in life but let's keep it in the context, of course, of this conversation, getting your dream job. Even if you know what you're supposed to do, why is getting started so hard for people?
Ken Coleman: Because we must confront the fact that there are going to be steps coming, maybe even the first step. We're not quite sure. Can't be quite sure how it's going to work out. This is where fear and doubt really encounter. So, by the way, as you know in the book, we write about three main enemies of progress, fear, doubt, pride. And so, they're with us through the entire journey. They never disappear but we can't overcome them. And so, in this particular stage, think about the Olympics. We just recently saw the Olympics and you know these great sprinters. I love the 100 meters, I love all those sprint races, and I love the precision by which these athletes get in the starting blocks. They get their heels in there just right. They get their hands and their fingers spread. I mean, it's very, very precise. And you hear the guy that go, “Rip,” or whatever they say. I never can tell what they're saying. I love that noise and then they get up on their haunches. Their bodies are tight, like springs ready to go. And then, right, they fire the starter pistol and, boom, they're off and running. Most people, when they get in that process of getting in the blocks, they never even get up to their haunches in that taut frame. Some of them do. But then the pistol goes off and they just go, they just stay there, right? They don't move. They just look left, they look right. They go, “Ah, everybody else is running, but I don't want to run,” and it's because of fear and doubt.
A couple of voices here, examples. Fear of the unknown. That's really the biggest one. I mean, at the end of the day, we could be very clear what our purpose is but we don't know exactly what the journey is going to look like. Anybody that tells you that, that's a fool. You can't know that. We do know the direction. We know the mountaintop we're going after but we don't know what's going to happen on the climb. So, there's a lot of fear of the unknown. Then there's the fear of failure, “What if I come out of this block and I pull a hamstring or I trip and fall and skin my knee? All right, fall and everybody on national TV sees me wipeout, fear of failure.” Those are two biggies. Doubt, the cousin of fear, different voice. The big doubt voice in that starting block is, "You don't have what it takes to finish this race. You don't belong here. You're an impostor.” Another voice of doubt is, "You know what, you're not going to get any better at this. This is a big waste of time. It's too late. You don't have enough time, enough energy to run this race well. You're starting too late,” whatever it is. So, these are the voices, fear and doubt. They take on very, very specific narratives, depending on who we are. And so, what happens is those voices camp out. And while as humans we cannot control what thought enters our head, we can control if it stays in our head.
William James, one of the godfathers in psychology, once said, "No matter how absurd something is, if it is repeated often enough, people will believe it.” And, boy, is he right. We’re seeing that throughout history. Let's personalize that to this context. No matter how absurd a thought is, if we think it enough, we believe it. And so, these absurdities skate around in our brain like roller skating night, and then they become the soundtrack of our lives. They become realities. That's why people never truly start. It's too scary. It's too full of the unknown. And so, they just retreat back to the bleachers of life, and they've made excuses for it that sound really reasonable. “Well, I could have failed. You know, I could have spent too much money on this. I could have failed like people could have rejected me.” We have all these excuses as to why they need to stay in the safety of the bleachers. And Teddy Roosevelt said it so well in his speech, Man in the Arena, "They end up those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
Hal Elrod: So, how do you overcome that? What's your process or your advice?
Ken Coleman: So, we write about this in the book. You've got to turn yourself into one of those courtroom dramas, right? So, we're going to put fear, the voice of fear, the voice of doubt on the witness stand. There are times, I want to make this very clear, there are times where fear is telling me the truth. If I go up to a really tall cliff here in Tennessee tonight and it's way up high, and I get to the edge of the rock and also the little rock crumbles and I look down, I go, “Whoa,” and I get really fearful, fear is telling me the truth there. “Hey, Coleman, you step out too far here, you lean too far over, dude, you're going to fall to your death.” Is fear lying to me or telling me the truth there? It’s telling me the truth. If I go out tonight to the basketball goal outside my house, it's 10 feet and I look up there and I go, “I'm going to dunk this basketball tonight,” doubt goes, “Coleman, there's no chance in the world that you're going to dunk without a trampoline. Even that’s questionable.” Is doubt telling me the truth? Yes. But in most of these instances, those voices that I shared earlier, they are lying to us. So, we got to put them on the witness stand. So, here's what we got to do. If the voice of fear is, "You are going to fail, fail miserably. And as a result, no one's ever going to hire you or you'll never be able to start that business again. And you're going to starve underneath the bridge homeless.” That's the voice.
So, what do we do? We put it on the witness stand. Is that voice true? I really tell people to write it out specifically as they can, write out the fear and air it. Then retreat to clarity, which is what stage one is, retreat to clarity. Do I have the talent to pull this off? Yes, I do. Do I love this work deeply I'm willing to suffer patiently, to suffer some failure, to suffer some rejection, whatever, humiliation, in order to get good enough to make this work or to grow? Yes. If I achieve it, if I get it, does this work? Create a result. That is a deep, deep value for me that I care deeply about. The answer is yes. So, we look at fear and we go, "Fear, shut up. I'm not going to fail. There's no way I can fail.” See, failure is not final. So, I'm not going to be an abject failure. So, we just said, is fear telling the truth? The answer is no. Let's focus on the truth. I do have the talent. I do have the passion. It's on mission. I'm not going to quit. I will get there. I will fail forward. And so, now we focus on the truth and we act on the truth. We know this for neuroscience, that we see what we focus on. And if I'm focusing on the truth, I will see evidence of that all the time. The reverse is true. The reticular activating system is in our brain. They've proven it. It’s this fascinating little filter in our brain that turns our brain into a camera.
It's why when we buy a car, Hal, we see that car everywhere on the road for four or five or six days. Isn't that phenomenal? How does that happen? Did the car ferry all of a sudden put one of those on the road? No. You didn't see them before because you weren't focused on that car. And we write about this in the book. They did a famous psychology research project where they put some people in a room, I think it was 20 people, and they said, “Watch this basketball drill with these young men running up and down the court, passing the ball to each other. We want you to focus on one thing and only one thing and record how many times the ball is passed.” It was a 10-minute video. Halfway through the video, they put a guy in a gorilla costume in the middle of a passing drill, and he stood there for a minute. At the end of the exercise, they came in the rooms and said, “How many of you noticed the gorilla?” But only two or three people did. Fascinating. What we focus on is what we act on.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. Well said. Well said. In the book toward the end, I think it's chapter, actually, 11. You type in how to tell the difference between the dream and a mirage. And I find that a fascinating concept, and I think that for a lot of people, it's almost lacking confidence in our clarity, right? Like, is the clarity that I've generated, is it right? Is it really the dream job or is it a mirage? So, how do you tell the difference between a dream and a mirage?
Ken Coleman: We know what's really happening there is I don't know, Hal, if you remember Saturday morning cartoons and Looney Tunes, the greatest cartoon franchise of all time. And when I wrote this, it was funny. When I wrote this chapter, I literally was thinking of this moment. I remember years ago, there was a cartoon with Daffy Duck. And I don't remember how it got in the desert but he's in the desert, and he'd been in the desert for a while and he's walking along, "Woe is me. Life is over,” and his tongue was literally dragging along the sand, and he’s just slowly going through and he looks up ahead and he sees out the middle of this desert, this beautiful tropical oasis, palm trees and bushes and flowers and this beautiful body of water. And so, all of a sudden, Daffy’s eyes bug out of his head. He gets all excited. His little web feet turning into wheels and he's coming along the desert. Also, he jumps up in the air, does this Olympic swan dive, and he's going to land in the water, and all of a sudden it goes away. The mirage goes away and he lands, beak first in the sand. Boyoyoyoyoing. He's like, “Oh my goodness.” That's the vision. Because I hear so many people call me on the Ken Coleman Show go, “Hey, Ken, I took the promotion. Thought it was the dream job. And I got in and I got to tell you, it's nothing like I thought it was going to be, and I'm miserable. I want to get out of here.” That's what I was addressing. So, here's what happens. We've got to always make the decision based on clarity. Is this dream job truly a dream job or is it a mirage? It is a mirage if it is only promotion and only pay.
If it's a bigger promotion and it's bigger pay but it's not on purpose, then it is a mirage, because here's what happens, Hal. This is why I use the mirage analogy. When we get this shiny job offer, here's what happens. It's amazing. It looks good, it feels good. We see we got to understand the psychology behind this. Here's what I mean. You tell everybody, “Hey, this company wants me.” Tell your mom, your dad, your friends, “Hey, I got a job offer from this other company. It's a promotion. I mean, it's a bigger deal than what I'm doing now. It feels good.” Right? Excuse me. It looks good to everybody else. It looks good. When we look good, our shoulders are back. Then we see the pay and there's more pay. Boy, that feels good. Now, this is the smart decision. This is more money in my bank account, every paycheck, every year. So, that feels good. Boy, it's hard to say no to something that looks good and feels good, isn't it, Hal?
Hal Elrod: Yeah, sure.
Ken Coleman: What is the enemy of great? You've heard this before.
Hal Elrod: Good, of course.
Ken Coleman: Good is the enemy of great. We have people even in Ramsey Solutions that I swear I feel like I'd love to sit with all of them just because just to be honoring. I go, “Why are you leaving? What are you leaving to? Because if it's more pay and it's a promotion, but it's not on purpose, this too shall pass.” I think the average human gets over the promotion and the pay, I'd say within six months. It's probably quicker than that. I'm probably being generous. It's probably three months or that you keep seeing the paycheck and that wears off. Well, we humans adapt so quickly. And so, that's what I mean by the mirage, because once the promotion, the looks good. I've told all my friends and family, they're over it now and I've gotten used to the bigger paycheck, so I'm over that. Is it on purpose? Am I using what I do best, do the work I love to produce results that matter to me? That's purpose. That's meaning. That's what sustains me. Paychecks, bigger paychecks, and higher promotions don't sustain me. If they did, then we wouldn't be having this discussion. That's the mirage.
Hal Elrod: Yeah. That makes so much sense that once you settle into that slightly higher paycheck, then whether or not the work's fulfilling is what really determines your long-term fulfillment, right?
Ken Coleman: That's right. And we unpack that a little bit more in that chapter. I just chose a couple of those. The other thing is people will go for a company that's a big-name sizzle brand. And that has nothing. Nobody cares. Nobody cares where you work. Nobody cares. Nobody cares where I went to school. Nobody cares where I work. Nobody cares. Nobody that matters. Strangers don't care. And I tell you, friends and family don't care. They don't care if you work for Target or Google. Oooh. Again, nobody cares. So, these are traps that we go through that in much more detail in that chapter.
Hal Elrod: Sure. And the examples you just gave are really making decisions based on ego, right, based on pride, which temporarily induces a high and then it fades pretty quickly.
Ken Coleman: Yeah. Hey, Hal, I hate to do this. I know you're going to edit this. I got to wrap pretty quick.
Hal Elrod: No, no, that's fine. Where's the best place for people to get the book? I know you got to go but, yeah, Paycheck to Purpose, where can people go for this?
Ken Coleman: Yeah. KenColeman.com is the best place because you get an opportunity for the Get Clear Career Assessment, which is an actual digital report. It's StrengthsFinder on steroids because it's going to give you the passion and mission report. And that's at KenColeman.com. They can connect with me on the show there, Sirius XM, YouTube, podcasts, syndicated radio, and of course social media.
Hal Elrod: And they can find the book.
Ken Coleman: Thanks for having me, Hal.
Hal Elrod: From Paycheck to Purpose, everybody, go grab it, The Clear Path to Doing Work That You Love. Ken, it's been a pleasure, man. Thank you so much.
Ken Coleman: Hal, I appreciate you and what you're doing. Keep it up.
Hal Elrod: Ditto, brother. Take care.