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.”

SNL-Fernando

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.