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Your Job And Life Purpose – What I Dream To Be And What I Dream To Do – Part 11

David Lutes is a global talent management, organizational development and leadership coach, consultant and trainer. A former church pastor, he is radically and passionately committed to helping people discover their meaning, purpose and direction for their life and career.

Executive Contributor David Lutes

Oh, to be able to use more of my gifts, skills, and tools! The problem with trying to define or find your Dream Job is usually also about being able to admit to yourself that it probably doesn’t exist, or that you may die before you get there (unless your dream job is checking IDs at the Gates of Heaven). If you haven’t discovered or admitted it already, it is also a journey with out-of-print maps, erratic GPS, and changing landscapes – and even potholes or a minefield or two along the way.

A man's hand

“The street of unfulfilled dreams can be very lonely!” (Paraphrased from rock group White Snake – Here I Go Again - 1982)

There will be considerable challenges that define, test, thwart or distort your values, purpose, and sense of meaning in this world – and especially your career. We/you need to come to terms with the truth, that while you may be headed in the right direction, even consistently, the ultimate dream may very well remain elusive. Then you may also need to come to terms with the unwelcome, unpalatable truth, that the absolutely perfect dream is out of reach. This is not philosophical ‘rocket science’ – the pragmatic realist ‘inside us’ already knows this.

However, it often depends on how we define ‘Dream’.

“They told me to dream big! To dream of what I could become! ‘You can be anything you dream and want to be!’, they said. Then, down the road they told me, ‘Dreams don’t pay the bills … get a damn job!’” (David Lutes)

Perhaps, however, we need to define or formulate our dream plan in other terms, terms that are different from the typical formula or the way career journey counsellors and gurus describe it. The HR and Talent Management world portrays ‘ideal’ as when you can use your Knowledge/Education, Practiced or Demonstrated Skill, Unique Ability and Other Special, Specific Talent or Knack – and earn enough money to have a reasonably good life – and maybe climb the ‘corporate’ ladder as well. That is considered by many to be really close to ‘The Ideal’.

Yet others may simply state that if they can use their education (even a little bit of it), earn a fair wage, work close to home with a reasonably good work-life balance – own a modest home while paying off their massive education debt – then they are approaching the ideal.

Some may label the high income or fortune at the end of a short path as the ticket to buying, having, and doing more – and not working much at all – from a young age.

Others may describe the ideal as getting a chance – just one legitimate shot – at breaking the ‘glass or diversity ceiling’ – even almost at any price.

Others may define it as being able – given the freedom – to do the ‘right things, achieving the right objectives, in the right way, with the right support, with the right training and lifelong learning opportunities, the right career path’… etc. Their definition of what is ‘right’ is usually born in their ‘values heart’.

Or put more altruistically, your dream may simply, but profoundly, be the chance to live your life ‘doing right’ – and pay isn’t the issue.

“Maybe your path and journey are harder, and more difficult, because your values are deeper, and your calling is stronger – and your dreams are higher.” (Edward Gorbis and David Lutes)


Know yourself, know your heart – Know at least some of your dream

Let’s start with these questions to ask yourself – go on, try to ask them...

  • “What makes me want to go to work each day and attempt/show discretionary effort – to try harder, to do and give more – and stay on and in the job longer?”

  • “What compels me to overcome challenges and obstacles and still always try to excel at what I normally do – while I do the overcoming?

  • “What motivates me to be constantly learning, growing, and improving?

  • “Where do I spend my quality free time? Doing what and why?”

  • “What do I think I do in, through or by my life – at work or elsewhere – that is distinctive or makes me stand out from others?”

  • “What are the 3-4 routines that I focus the most energy on?”

  • “What necessary thing(s) do I avoid or put off doing? And why?”

  • “What, in terms of latent potential and desire, lies relatively untapped inside you that you often wish could be ‘discovered’, unlocked, and unleashed?”

Before you continue reading this article, please refresh your ‘dreaming’, by looking again at Parts 6 & 7 in this series of articles: Ready to Be / Ready to Do – Meant to Be / Meant to Do. There is another way to look at all this – especially in light of those other sections.

Please forgive me: Please, my non-US and non-sports readers, forgive me while I use a baseball metaphor and analogy again.

“No matter how good you are (play), you're going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are (play), you're going to win one-third of your games. It's the other third that makes the difference.” (Tommy Lasorda – Manager, Los Angeles Dodgers)

In Major League Baseball (MLB), the ‘best of the very best’ players are often defined as 4-5 ‘Tool’ Players (‘Toolers’). Most good players normally have only two ‘tools’, and, if young enough and teachable and eager enough, the team hopes that they can learn and develop a third ‘tool’. 

‘Tools’ usually = skills, abilities (latent potential), attitude and teachability.

‘5-Toolers’ are very much in demand but are actually very, very rare. 

A 5-tool player excels at

  1. hitting the ball for average (a high % of the hits are ‘safe’ – no out or error recorded – or described as ‘productive’)

  2. hitting for power (a high % of the balls that are hit, travel very quickly and are difficult to stop or catch – speed!)

  3. base running skills and speed (they’re just fast and situational savvy – with good agility; using normal ‘pedestrian’ language, they are ‘streetwise’ when they navigate running the bases)

  4. throwing ability (consistently accurate and with a strong arm)

  5. ball-catching and fielding abilities (agility, maneuverability, anticipation when a ball is hit near or to them)


Even if you are not baseball-savvy or experienced – or if you have no interest in any sport, I will challenge you, in terms of your employment or career dream, to try to identify 4-5 ‘tools’ (e.g., skills, special qualities, unique contributions, talents, etc.) that you bring to the plate/field/match (to the ‘table’ of the organization).

You’ll very often see this kind of wording in a job vacancy advertisement – ‘Required Skills and Experience’, ‘Essential Skills’, ‘Desirable Skills’, ‘Nice to Have Skills’, ‘Unique Talents’.

You need to ask yourself, and the hiring organization also should be asking, a different set of questions to define ‘you’ – questions that help you and them consider you from a different and deeper and more useful – and longer-term perspective.

Try to answer some more questions about yourself. Complete or elaborate on the sentence…

Regardless of the role or job … true, false, both, or it depends

  • I consistently deliver high quality…

  • My actions/choices/decisions are regularly impactful…

  • I demonstrate speed, savviness, agility, and/or good timing when contributing to the job, team or organization…

  • I pro-actively and with ‘forward energy’, deliver results with specialist or unique skills…

  • I have good and positive reactive instincts and respond maturely when handling problems and issues with balanced precision, while protecting and serving the interests of others and the organization…

  • I know when and how to effectively, helpfully, and constructively hold myself back, to step aside to make room for others, or just keep my mouth shut or to open it appropriately…

  • I treat other people with respect, empathetically and supportively…

Your ‘readiness’ for the dream job – and that 6th ‘Tool’.

If ‘they’ (that ideal organization ‘out there’) was looking for a 6th Tool, or needed that something more to define you as, ‘Ready’…what would it be? 

Back to baseball…

“There are three types of baseball players: those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happened – but they’re still all on the team.” (Tommy Lasorda – Manager, Los Angeles Dodgers and David Lutes)

6th ‘tool’ – drive and motivation – heart and the ‘inner’ game

Could the descriptors below be printed on the back of your own professional career ‘baseball card’ – or on the back of your CV?

  • Willingness and eagerness – a true student of the ‘game’…

  • Willing to learn, grow and improve …

  • A hunger and gnawing, but healthy dissatisfaction with where I am at professionally …

  • Genuine satisfaction from just being there, doing my ‘thing’ – the joy of it!

  • Healthy ‘caged’ or pent-up creativity and innovation waiting to burst out of me …

  • Able to break out of my comfort zone; leave it all on the ‘field’/pitch/court whenever called up to do so …

  • A kind of ‘sixth sense’ anticipation; reading the political and organizational change tealeaves and landscape …

‘Holistic’ dream career pathing

(With full acknowledgement and appreciation for the writing and work of Daniel Pink)

Looking Deeper, Inner, Longer, More Personally and Fully

General Desire, Drive and Motivation

What taps into my ‘Wiredness’ as a person – into who I am? (How am I ‘wired’?)

What gives me a ‘buzz’ at work, in life; that unlocks my deeper, inner motivations?

Relatedness / connectedness

Desire and Motivation to Work with Others

I have a strong desire to be joined to/connected with others. It is the glue that is part of my career ‘heart’ and that holds groups and organizations together and elevates a normal, work social system/culture to something truly meaningful and even life changing. Yep, that’s me!

Venn diagram

“There is no heavier burden than unfulfilled potential and dreams left to disappear in the mist.” (Charles Schulz / David Lutes)


Inner Drive, Natural Inclination, Freedom to…

Self-direction is a natural tendency and characteristic inside me. From my childhood I knew I naturally played and explored on my own. I am built with inner drive and have a natural inclination toward self-determination. It is something I need, not just want. 


Doing More Things Better – Quest for Excellence

Most people naturally want to get better at doing things. I know I do. I must have a sense of progress, not just in my work outputs, but in terms of my capabilities as a person. It contributes to my inner drive. I seek an employer who looks and plans more carefully and ‘holistically’ at calibrating and balancing what people must do not only by looking at what they have done/can do. My dream job = Performance + Potential and then unlocks my Desire to Do … my Dream to Be.


Meaning and Value of Job/Work

People who find purpose in their work unlock the highest levels of ‘the motivation game’. Without necessarily curing cancer, I need to connect to a cause larger than myself – more important than me – and that touches and drives my deepest motivation. Purpose is what gets me out of bed in the morning and into work with anticipation, without groaning and grumbling — something that I just cannot fake. 

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." (Eleanor Roosevelt)

Are you…

Ready now – Ready soon – Ready forward

  • Ready Now normally = Immediately – i.e., you are able, equipped, motivated, experienced, vital – and Ready to step into that new (your dream) job; and/or least take one important step closer. If it’s an internal opportunity, if your employer agrees with your ‘state of readiness’, the big questions they will be asking themselves are: Do we have a place for them, now? If we don’t have a place for them, are they a Flight Risk (will possibly leave)? If they leave, what is the Impact of Losing them?

  • Ready Soon normally = 1-3 years down the road – i.e., with some additional training, coaching, and opportunities to prove yourself, you see a clearer path to something closer to the Dream. Your employer will be asking questions, therefore, (again) … Are they a flight risk? What will it cost to put them on an accelerated development plan? Will the investment ultimately give us the ROI (Return on Investment) we need? 

  • Ready Forward normally = 3-5 years down the road – i.e., you are earmarked for special, focused development and coaching and worth investing in because you and the organization see you are solid or hi-performer that you should be on the succession planning radar.

Back to a sporting analogy

When sporting teams are weighing their options and chances of future success – their talent depth – they refer to ‘bench strength’. They consider age, range of ‘tools’, injury history, teamwork connectedness – on the field, on the bench, in the clubhouse – and in the community. 

Is there enough depth in the up-and-coming 2nd and 3rd teams? If not, how ‘ready’ are they to step up and step in? And if they are not ready now or soon, what will it take to get them closer to their ‘dream shot’ – and closer to mutual (team and personal) success?

Organizations are increasingly asking the same types of questions when they are looking for people like you – or to put people like you into and through an accelerated or purposeful development plan. You need to ask yourself the question – and perhaps also ask the organization when you interview or have your performance and career discussion – am I ready? And if yes, how soon? And if not, what will it take to get ‘there’ or closer to the ‘dream’ destination?

“Your dreams are safe with me.” (God)

A heart sign


David Lutes, Executive Career Coach ‒ Leadership Consultant

David Lutes is a global talent management, organizational development and leadership coach, consultant and trainer. A former church pastor, he is radically and passionately committed to helping people discover their meaning, purpose and direction for their life and career. He has been described as a 'gift and latent skill detector and developer', as he helps people and the organizations they work in discover the wealth and richness within their people.



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