296. Shifting Her Career to Follow Her Passion Gives Sense of Authenticity
Joanie always liked making things and solving problems and was fascinated by the math and science behind how things work. With her electrical engineering degree from Harvard, Silicon Valley seemed like the perfect place to launch her career. After watching her colleagues stay up into the wee hours of the morning debugging circuitry, for days on end, however, she had to face the hard truth….
Joanie B, Connell, Ph.D., is the founder of Flexible Work Solutions, a consulting firm that specializes in leadership assessment, development and retention for all levels. She teaches at top universities in the nation, including the University of California at San Diego. She is also the author of “Flying Without a Helicopter: How to Prepare Young People for Work and Life.” She received her doctorate in Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley, and her Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from Harvard University.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
“I like making things and solving problems, the kind of thinking that goes into the engineering, of trying to figure out how to make things work. I’ve always been interested in those kinds of things in science, physics, and especially math and logic. But once I started doing it (professionally), I realized that it really wasn’t my passion. I had gone in to engineering to be financially independent, but I saw my colleagues get so wrapped up in things, they would stay until the wee hours of the morning debugging circuitry, and I would rather leave and go on to something else!”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
Early in her career, Joanie discovered, “One of my passions was observing the engineers that I worked with. Talk about different situations and people! It was observing my manager and the people I worked with that got me thinking about a new career path in psychology.” At a job with Tandem Computer, where staff meetings were held only once a month, Joanie noticed, “You could see that everybody didn’t want to be in that room. It was like going into the principal’s office for something. It was so curious to me to see how people didn’t like to get together and have these interactions. I saw that I was really interested in ‘the people stuff’ and management and always thought that I wanted to go into management eventually. So I tried to get more people-oriented work.”
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
“Change is frightening, stressful and is not always easy. But that shouldn’t stop you from going there, just because it makes you feel uncomfortable at first. This is what happens to people all the time. It’s OK for it to be a little scary, or to create anxiety. You just have to expect that and get through it. Even good change can be anxiety-provoking. Getting married is one of the highest stressors for people in all of life. Buying a house is also very stressful. These are usually positive things, but we still get stressed out. Just understand that you’re probably going to feel that way. Understand that it will get easier as you go through it. It’s part of the process.”
Steps to Success from Joanie Connell
1. It’s hard to always get exactly what you want. It’s a matter of prioritizing and trade-offs, too.
2. Change can be frightening. Don’t let that stop you.
3. It gets easier as you go through the fear. It’s part of the process.
4. Aim toward having a truly authentic life.
On Her Bookshelf
Flying Without a Helicopter: How to Prepare Young People for Work and Life, by Joanie B. Connell, Ph.D.
Discover Your True North, by Bill George
Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life, by Gail Sheehy
Top Tools on Her Browser
https://www.onetonline.org/ – A full-access, online version of the occupational network database published by the U.S. Department of Labor
Connecting With Joanie Connell
FlyingWithout.com (her book’s website)
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