Life and Work

By Rick Fullerton | Bio

week I began a new job. In itself, this is not remarkable; people
change jobs as a regular occurrence, whether as a result of individual
initiative or organizational circumstance. For me, this latest career
move serves as a stimulus to reflect on my commitments and priorities
and how these evolve over time.

Early in my career, I was
energetic, curious and ambitious. I had student debts to pay, a family
to support, and the aspiration of home ownership. At the same time, I
recall being very clear that the work needed to be meaningful to me and
my sense of values. While my decision criteria may not have been very
well defined or systematic in those days, in retrospect, the priorities
that shaped the choices I made were clear.

After more than a
decade in public sector work in Ottawa, most of my early career goals
had been met: our family was settled in a home of our own, we were
active in church and community life, my career was progressing and
secure. Then, at 33, I chose to resign from the public service to
pursue new priorities—a geographic move, private sector experience, new
challenges and possibilities for me and my family.

continued and even accelerated in the years that followed. While I may
have identified less with the overall mission of my employer, I was
totally immersed in making the company effective through business
education, organizational development, and leadership excellence. As
well, there were opportunities to work on international projects and to
collaborate with some of the top consultants and academics in the
world. This phase of my career fostered a deepening of my sense of who
I was as a professional and as a person.

The next major career
shift came when I was decided to pursue further graduate studies, a
possibility that appeared following a major corporate downsizing.
Logistically this required another geographic move, this time to
Montreal, and senior level appointments that provided both great
learning experiences and financial stability during my doctoral
studies. By this time, our children were pursuing their own university
educations and setting out on their own. Meanwhile, my graying hair
suggested there might actually be some wisdom in the making.

my Ph.D. completed and our nest empty, my wife and I decided to come
home and start another career phase focused on consulting, service and
family. In practice, this became another period of new experience,
possibilities and learning—without the structure of a normal employment
relationship. For the first time in my career, my daily schedule was
unconstrained by organizational rhythms and processes. The freedom was
delightful, the possibilities endless, and my productivity expanded to
include home renovations completed and kilometers cycled.

back to this latest change. I have accepted a full time developmental
role in a graduate school of business. The work will be new to me, yet
will draw on my professional background in diverse corporate settings
and my academic experience. This is a great move—one that offers a
significant challenge and the chance to contribute to important work in
an organization that matches my core values. While many people I speak
with seem shocked that I would commit to a full-time position after
nearly a decade of relative leisure in a quasi-phased retirement, for
me this is the chance to wake up every morning with a reason to get out
of bed, to make a meaningful difference as part of a larger commitment
by an organization to add value beyond individual personal interests
and pursuits.

Simply put, work adds meaning to my life just as I aspire to add life to my work.

© 2008 Rick Fullerton. All rights reserved.