Not long ago, I had the opportunity to hear a speech by Jo Ellen Parker, the President of Sweet Briar College, which covered a wide array of topics related to the presidency of a college or university. I was recently reviewing my notes from that speech and a phrase I wrote down caught my eye. Dr. Parker said, “You shouldn’t want to be a president. You should want to do the work of the president.”


My mind immediately went to Billy Crystal’s famous characterization of Fernando Lamaz on Saturday Night Live during the 1980’s. The Fernando skits, as you may recall, always had a variation of the tagline, “it’s better to look good than to feel (or be) good…and you look mahvelous!”

I think there may be a connection here…otherwise, why would I be writing this? Dr. Parker’s point was (I believe) that you should take stock of why you may be interested in doing a particular thing…is it for the trappings or perks of the job, or is it because the day-to-day, roll-up-your-sleeves nature of the job appeals to you? It goes to your “Why”, and if you are living authentically the reason you’re doing a particular job is in alignment with your personal “Why” (clearly, I need to write a little on Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” and authentic leadership…but that’s for another day).

So there is a little bit of a being/doing continuum at work here. I think it is okay to want to be the job…as long as you recognize that being the job very much involves the not so glamorous doing the job.