Relationships at Work - the Employee Experience and Workplace Culture Podcast

Career Planning with a Challenge Mindset with JP Michel

January 10, 2023 Russel Lolacher Episode 47
Relationships at Work - the Employee Experience and Workplace Culture Podcast
Career Planning with a Challenge Mindset with JP Michel
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with organizational psychologist and SparkPath founder JP Michel on the importance of approaching career planning with a challenge mindset rather than solely on job titles and a "what do you want to be when you grow up" stance.

JP shares his thoughts, stories and experience with...

  • how to look differently in preparing students for their careers
  • why solely looking at job titles is the wrong career path approach
  • how a challenge mindset can help you focus on your career
  • reverse engineering career development
  • different ways to define what problems you fix

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For more, go to relationshipsatwork.ca 

Connect with me for more great content!

Russel Lolacher 
And on the show today on the other side of this here, microphone, it's JP Michel, and here's why he is awesome. He is the founder of SparkPath - an organization founded to help students change their mindsets and help them create extraordinary careers. They just have to explore the real world challenges that are inspiring them. Oh, we're digging into that. He's also created something called Challenge Cards, which I'm super curious about. He has a master's in organizational psychology.. get this, his Twitter handle literally says @JPpsychology. So there's something to it. He's a TEDx speaker, and recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Career Professional Award from the career professionals of Canada. And here he is, hello, JP. How are you doing today?

JP Michel 
I'm great. Russel, how are you?

Russel Lolacher 
I'm delightful, sir. Thanks. Today, we got to start every day with which we do on the podcast. See, I'm already mumbling. It's nice and early in the morning. What's your best or worst employee experience, sir?

JP Michel
Wow, best or worst employee experience? I think, you know, one of the companies that I joined, had a big expertise on assessment, okay, so professionally, they assess the skills, competencies, personal attributes of emerging leaders. And then they got to apply all of that to their own internal hiring practices. So what's the gift that you get after going through that process, you boost your level of self awareness, so you get a lot of data and language about who you are, which really helps with the onboarding. So I'd say it's a positive experience for me, because it was like really rich language and insights about like, well, who are you? Where are you now? And how can we use that to rewards where you're trying to go. And, that was positive.

Russel Lolacher
What blew you away out of that experience? If you're sitting there going, damn, I didn't know I was this or anything to that?

JP Michel
Well, to put it in context, I was 27, about at the time, and one of my weakest areas in terms of performance was called planning and organizing. And I had been in denial about this for 10 years, there were messages coming at me that communicated that very clearly. And I missed it, I missed it. My grade two teacher, excuse me, grade three teacher told me you're great at starting projects, and you struggle to finish them. That is still true today. But there was a long period of life that I was in denial about, but that I got that data articulated very clearly in a way that I can understand in a way that I could finally see and acknowledge during that assessment process, which allowed me to change the way that I worked. You know, one example of that is, when I have meetings with people, I need to artificially add structure that I don't usually think about doing myself, what is structure in a meeting, an agenda, action items. At the end, it seems really simple. But I changed my mind on this. So much so that other people perceived me to have higher levels of planning, organizing that I really had, I was just cheating. I was just adding structure, in a process to mitigate my weaknesses.

Russel Lolacher
That's such a personalization thing. Tools are essential. But so many people just go through and float through work and get frustrated and angry that they're not getting what they get. Because they're not identifying which tools they need. So that sounds like a great superpower, man, at least for your own sanity, anyway.

JP Michel
Thank you. I need a lot of those.

Russel Lolacher
All right, JP, you're a career development guy. You're a psychology guy. Why do you think this was an area that needed focusing on? This has certainly been something you've dedicated your whole life to.

JP Michel
Yeah, well, one crucial experience I had professionally was watching emerging leaders being assessed the same way that I was assessed when I was hired at that consulting company. So we worked with human resources department that they were going through this process of building their internal talent pools. So maybe they want to assess 10 leaders and find out which one of these should we invest more time and energy in which one of these leaders is ready for the next step. And a classic example was the smartest engineer on the team. So put yourself in the shoes of that person, the smartest engineer, they were typically very good at solving technical problems on their own. So we, you know, that company, saw that person succeed, solve a lot of problems. We said, oh, you know what, you're ready for the next level. A completely different job team leader. And for some engineers, this was their first experience, like communicating at that level thinking about different sets of problems. They had to stop being the best person and solving technical problems, and now help a team solve a problem together. And some of them struggle. They weren't able to do that at all. They weren't able to let go of, you know, the past job description they had. But some of them thrived. They completely changed their approach, they focused on a new challenge to solve. And as I was seeing leaders transition to new challenges to solve better challenges to solve being adaptable, I thought, You know what, this adaptability This is the opposite of what we're teaching in schools. When it comes to career development in schools, kids tend to be asked, What do you want to be when you grow up? The answer to them in their mind is picking one job title for the rest of their lives. That's scary. Everyone listening to this knows that that wasn't the case in the past, it's not the case today. And it's not in the case in the future, that they'll have to lock into one job title forever. Instead, it's my belief that they'll work on several different challenges, problems and opportunities over their lives, things like improving mental health, you know, you're working on improve, you've worked on improving the customer service experience, you've worked on improving the employee experience, there's so many problems to solve in the world. And I thought, you know, what, if we can bring this message to young people, we can completely change their outlook on their future. So they'll be much better prepared and much more excited about what's to come.

Russel Lolacher
I love the idea of understanding something by first figuring out its opposite. So if we're before I asked you what exactly is a challenge mindset? What are you feeling that the mindset that we're promoting is now? Is it just that singular? You can only be one thing? Is it like, what is it that we're what problem are we trying to fix in the way people are thinking?

JP Michel
Yeah, I would call it the "job title mindset." My entire field of career development has been anchored by the job title. It's been the point of exploration for the labor market, my entire field understands the labor market through the lens of job titles, not companies, not labor market problems to solve. But job titles. And that's a very, you know, singular, limited way of looking at the world. It's necessary. I'm not eliminating job titles anytime soon. That's another conversation. I just don't want to make it the focal point of the conversation that is now so I will call that the job title mindset. I would argue that this same job title mindset is the reason that career exploration is not valued in schools. That's a very bold statement from someone who has the privilege of working with hundreds of career development champions in schools. They're the exception. I don't work with millions of career development champions in schools yet, for the majority of schools, career development is an afterthought. Why? Well, historically, career development in schools has been about pigeonholing students into one chunk out for life. I'm not upset that schools are not excited about doing that I'm not upset that teachers don't want to make that part of their mandate. However, I think things are ripe for change. Students want to talk about this stuff. We want students to connect their experience at school with something that's going to serve them in the future. These are all very positive things. And I think with a few simple shifts, we can get rid of this job title, mindset and shift to the challenge mindset.

Russel Lolacher
Alright, JP, shift me, what is a challenge mindset?

JP Michel
I think the best way to introduce this to let's say, you know, a 16 year old student in high school is to get them to choose between two different challenges. So Russel, we're going to play together, and you're going to be in the role of the 16 year old student, are you ready?

Russel Lolacher
I am. Go ahead.

JP Michel
All right. Would you rather work on the challenge of improving mental health or increasing sustainable energy you get to pick? Would you rather work on improved mental health? Or increase sustainable energy?

Russel Lolacher
I will choose mental health.

JP Michel
Great. Tell me why. Why did you choose that challenge over the other?

Russel Lolacher
For me, it's the human side of it. One of the biggest things that drives me is the relationship building, hence the name of the podcast. I really enjoy that interaction with human beings, connecting with them, understanding them, trying to help them. In contrast, the energy option felt very nebulous. It felt very it's a problem. I'm not saying it's not, but it doesn't have a personal human side to it, obviously, in an obvious way.

JP Michel
Great. Thanks for sharing. Why you picked it to me that's my favorite part is listening to why people picked on challenges. So if you can imagine my world now I get to work work with what I call dream enablers. These are career counselors, career advisors, post decondary, college, university, or high schools. And one of their expertise is listening. So for them when they hear you speak, I'm going to play back what they hear. You ready?

Russel Lolacher
Sure.

JP Michel
The first words you said was for me? Great, Russel's looking inward. So that's one of their expertise. They want people to look inward, right. And then you mentioned something that you care about, I like the human side. Okay, these are part of your values. And then you start talking about relationship building. That's probably one of his skills and ability of strength. And then here's what I enjoy. Here are your interests. To summarize, this is the raw material of career development, story, skills, interests, values, and we had a conversation about that in direct connection with a labor market opportunity, right? So you're looking inward, you're looking at what at the same time. And that's what these dream enablers are doing, to change the way that students are looking at the future. So they show them challenges to solve. They help students pick, then they help them make meaning out of their choices, and that surfaces all sorts of important information about them. Can I tell you what happens after that?

Russel Lolacher
Please do.

JP Michel
They build a roadmap? Okay, so if you chose improve mental health as a 16 year old, next, we're going to research what organizations are working on that now. You could point them to the public sector, private sector, non-profits, headspace an app on their phone, there's so many different organizations working on that, who are the people who work there? We're going to find them on LinkedIn on the company websites, then this, this entire thing is going to come to life, their profiles, what did they learn to be able to do that? Okay, now we're thinking about post secondary options, we're thinking about things that I can do on my path to get to where they are. I call this flipping the model. Because when you start with challenges, and go to companies, people in learning, you're doing it the opposite way of the traditional way. Traditionally, that 16 year old student would be asked what's your favorite class, and then that favorite class would lead to a major that hopefully leads to a job that has some connection, because people love the linear way of looking at careers. And then they beg for someone to hire them after they graduate, and then down the line, five years in, then they realize what's the problem I'm actually trying to solve. And maybe you end up there and your employee experiences that I love the problem I'm trying to solve. Or not, maybe you end up there, and there is no purpose, there's no connection for you, behind the why of the company, and you hate it there. And it doesn't matter what perks an employer offers you. There's no purpose, there's no connection. The sad part is is took us so long to get there. And my change is what if we start there? What if we started with challenges? First, what difference could it make?

Russel Lolacher
What benefit do you see for those with a challenge mindset? Once they get into an organization, both for them and for the organization itself?

JP Michel
I really think this is an even better employee development tool than a career development tool. Here's why. Russel, when you're hiring, who do you want? Do you want the...let's say it's a young person, You're hiring an early career professional? Do you want the person that shows up and says, Hey, can you send me that job description? Again? Like what? Russel? What am I doing today? What do I do tomorrow? Like, what am I supposed to do? Or do you want the other person? She's asking? Okay, what's the problem we're trying to solve? How can I contribute? She's proactive, she understands the bigger picture. She can make suggestions, recommendations, try out things I want the second person, the first person is very hard to manage and to lead and they need to be force fed everything. I want the proactive person who sees the bigger picture because I think they're gonna have a bigger impact.

Russel Lolacher
How have you seen this change in those you've worked with when it comes to that that light bulb moment for them? Because I'm, I'm hearing confidence. That's what I'm hearing is that it actually embeds confidence in people's next steps. Am I hearing wrong? Is there anything else I'm missing?

JP Michel
Yeah, a lot of the dream enablers I work with, they're seeing students like in pain, right? Maybe they're 21. They're about to graduate. And there's so much pressure and anxiety. Why? Because they still see the whole world through the lens of what do you want to be when you grow up? I haven't picked that job title. I have no idea what's going on. And they're in pain. So the first thing that they do with these challenge cards is they help students feel relief. Ah, I don't need to pick one job tonight, I can work on several different challenges, I get to choose challenges that interests me. So relief is the number one thing that I'd say that, you know, these folks are feeling. And I should tell you that I built a company called spark path to fuel this mission that we're talking about. And it just so happens that I chose to help dream unable to help students. However, we have a lot of career coaches that use our same tools that work with mid career level professionals. And the formula is very, very similar. So I will share a lot of examples of students to make this come to life. But it doesn't mean it doesn't work for, you know, anyone at any age. So I'm going to get to confidence because I think you're completely right. But it starts with relief. The other pieces of broadens horizons, you're talking about people who may see the world in a very linear lens. If you study biology, you have to become a biologist and work for a biology company. That's one possibility. But in the real world of work, it takes an interdisciplinary approach to solve problems in this challenge mindset is one way to wrap your head around that. I would argue that the confidence comes once you start doing the research. Oh, it's true. There are several different types of companies working on that challenge. Oh, it's true. There are all sorts of people and profiles and skills working on that. And then once you take stock of your skills, and you think, how do I want to contribute? How can I contribute? How can my skills help? That's where the confidence piece comes in. So I think you're right.

Russel Lolacher
So I'm not letting you get away without talking about that in mid career. So how is it different?

JP Michel
Yeah, I don't think it is. Because if you remember the story that I shared at the beginning, I mean, the heart of this idea came from me, when I was meeting with emerging leaders, you know, they were five years in 10 years and 15 years in, they were making a big transition. And I think the future that we're heading towards is a future with more transitions. Why are there more transitions? Everyone knows this. Technology is moving fast. Cultural norms are changing. We're expecting more change faster in the future, you know, in the future? What if 10 years of change happen in five years? That's what's coming up. So what does that mean for our own careers, more change more transitions? A key skill and transitions is adaptability. One thing that's helpful is if you can see the bigger picture. The challenge mindset helps you do that you think about well, what am I here for? One thing it makes me think about is one of my first jobs I was at a birthday party host. So the kids would come in to the community center where we had a pool. And at first I followed the job description, I put up the decorations I cleaned up afterwards. And what I quickly saw was, this is the bare minimum. I'm not happy, the parents aren't happy because there's something wrong. And then I realized, like, well, the job is different than just being a birthday party house. What's the problem I'm trying to solve. And once I realized that, I was trying to give the kids a memorable experience. I understood where I had to go above and beyond the job. What I understood that was just important, as the kids were the parents, the parents had to have a positive experience. Once I figured that I did different things, or different behaviors, different skills, I was flexing. And once I started doing that, and getting a positive reaction, I started getting tips, then things became interesting, okay, well, I'm gonna focus on this problem to solve, rather than just the one that students are trying to solve. So how does this apply to mid career professionals? I think if you don't step back and look at the bigger picture, it's quite easy to get lost into forget, why are we here? What's my why? What's the why for my department, you know, for my company for my team? What's the problem we're trying to solve at the expense of work problem? These are like powerful questions that help you connect with purpose. And I think that, you know, a lot of the research around purpose at work says that, if you've got more, if you feel purpose at work, you're going to enjoy your working life a lot more than if you don't.

Russel Lolacher
And is that where the Challenge Cards come in? Is that where they sort of, I guess, challenge those mindsets? Could you explain a little bit more about what a challenge card and how that helps?

JP Michel
Yeah, it's very similar to the game that you and I played, I said, Would you rather do this or would you rather do that? And to facilitate that exercise, I made a deck of cards. At first, it was 25 cards, examples of problems to solve in the world. Do you want to end extreme poverty or help people reach their potential? Do you want to create new artificial intelligence or make things beautiful? And the idea with the cards is that it would simplify the learning of what the challenge mindset is in a very tactile way. So students would take these cards and separate them to three piles, the challenges I don't like the ones I like, the ones I really like, this happens very, very fast, you know, they could sort through the cards in five to eight minutes. Since then this was 2017. Now we have 53 cards. And educators and students have given us feedback on what we were missing. And that tool is the catalyst learn the challenge mindset. It's the intro, that's where it starts. You and I, today, we're doing some of the theory behind it, which is fine. I don't like teaching the theory to individuals, I like for them to learn by doing so they just play. And they get all of these big messages that you and I are talking about, just through the experience of doing the cards, and which I think is way more fun. It's way more engaging. So how does that help mid career professionals, they can learn the challenge mindset for the same game. But here's what's interesting for them. Once you play the cards and have learned the mindset, the most powerful activity you can do is create your own challenge card. Why? Well, I'm not pretending I made the dictionary of all the challenges that are available in the world, right? There's a lot of stuff out there, I just wanted the most engaging, quickest tool to learn the challenge mindset. So once you do that, if you can make your own challenge card, it really zeroes you in and some clear, concise language of what are we really doing? What's the problem we care the most about? And that can be done individually. Or it can be done as a team to make sure that everyone's on the same page.

Russel Lolacher
Just want to be clear, are we talking about challenges and identifying them? Or are we talking about overcoming particular challenges?

JP Michel
I like just identifying challenges, you know, identifying, I like to use the word challenges, problems or opportunities. I started with the word problems to solve. And my wife said, No, that is way too negative, you're much too positive person. So I went to challenges. Even that language, you know, some folks tell me no, it's not challenges, its opportunities. I think all three are fine. And I've given you some examples on this call, right? It could be one of one of my favorite challenges in the deck is foster understanding and respect. So that would be one example. And the overcoming part I use a different word wrestle, I think overcoming is fine. But some of these are unsolvable in the sense of, there's no real endpoint. So I use the word I use is contribute. How can I contribute, contribute to solving and contribute to working on that contribute to improving it, and that contribute makes you think about the knowledge, skills and experience you bring the table to make the world better, right? A lot of students say I want to make the world better. But it's too broad, right? You want to zero in on something more specific. So that's why I use the word contribute.

Russel Lolacher
What are the challenges to having a challenge mindset? Is it a resistance to doing something different? I'm also kind of curious about the cultures that people with a challenge mindset are trying to enter? And maybe they're not as welcoming. So what's your experience with that?

JP Michel
Well, I just after a call, I'm training a group of these dream enablers in the Northwest Territories. They're a fascinating group because they work with indigenous students with unique challenges. And they're traveling to remote communities. Imagine some of them don't have internet access, for example. So what we're working on together is how do you pitch the challenge mindset? Meaning for every student issue that you might face? How do you explain that the challenge mindset might help? So it's forming that language? So I'd say that that's the first thing to get right as a dream enablers. You want to make the person understand that doing the challenge cards, using the challenge mindset will help here's how just earn that person's confidence to go out and do these exercises. So that's the number one thing I'll say about issues you know, of using the challenge mindset, how do you pitch it? Then there's a bunch of other questions we can get into but to answer your second question about culture, that's a great one because once you find companies that you want to work on, you quickly realize that their cultures are very different. And how you fit to each one is is depends right on on what you're looking at how you're looking to live I'm, I'm writing the book about the challenge mindset. Now the working title is The world needs you which is one of the key messages I want students to get. And my chapter on company research. I want to title it weird like you, which means that if you identify your weird, and you look for the weird in companies, you can see like, Well, what do I want? How do I like working? Do I like working for a large To place a small place a competitive culture, a collaborative culture, because that'll dictate a lot of your employees experience.

Russel Lolacher
So what advice would you give to those that say, okay, so say you have a challenge mindset, say you have identified and you think you found an organization that might be weird, like you, you get in there and you are wrong. So is it a matter of jumping ship? Or is it a matter of trying to change what you can control?

JP Michel
That's the wisdom eh? Like the difference between the two. In my experience, when things aren't working well, pausing to reflect on how you can make them better yourself is always the first step before jumping ship. Because the skills you acquire in improving the experience for yourself will be transferable to many other places that you do in life. Right. So one term I've used for this, or I've read about as a, there's theory around job crafting, you know, one practical exercise that would come from that would be for example, what are the three things that are most important to you in your daily work life? You know, is it connection? Is it creativity? And maybe action? So these are your, and that takes a long time to get here at the top three words. But if those are your three words, what if you did a daily Quantified Self? Every day? You would say, Well, I want you to do these three things within my culture. And I've really struggled to find ways to be creative within my culture. And in the morning, you could say, Well, how am I going to do this today? How will I be creative today, I'm going to take 60 minutes to work on this deep work project, in my own way during this time slot, and then at the end of the day, you give yourself a rating zero out of 10? How creative did you feel? That will be like a job crafting exercise that you would have control over to say, well, you know, what, can I take what I have in this opportunity and make it my own? I would do something like that before jumping ship.

Russel Lolacher
You mentioned when we started that you want to live in a world where there are no job titles, JP, but why would we want to? Is it because it's so limiting?

JP Michel
Yes, I think that if you see some of the way companies have built themselves and you know, acknowledged the problem that's really at hand, the first thing that some of them will say was, we're not doing this, right. We've got to innovate, things have to change. And some organizations are thinking like a about a design thinking approach that's lean and adaptable. And they're going to find, you know, who are we trying to serve? Who are they really? And then how can we prototype solutions in this much more fluid environment, there could be benefits of letting go of job titles of functional roles for a minute, because you could find different unique ways to contribute and collaborate. I think that's a bit outside of my area of expertise. But there are companies that are really innovating and trying to do trying to find different ways to work, it does take a more purposeful approach, you need good communication, to be able to do that. You need to be really to move fast. So it might be the right thing for certain environments, and not others. But I think it's something worth exploring as we create the next future of work.

Russel Lolacher
What would you say to someone, and I know because I'm feeling a little bit myself, that has a role that seems to be almost too big, ie communications. So say you're working with students, and they're recognizing that they want to solve problems in that field. The problem is, communication is such an umbrella. And most organizations will put the wrong language in their titles or their job descriptions. So it's confusing for someone who may be wanting to go down a particular path. But even the job descriptions don't seem to inform or support that career path, even though they might be a perfect fit for the job, even though that might be the perfect thing that they should apply to. So it seems to not having this knowledge of your challenge mindset seems to not necessarily line up with how organizations want to communicate about themselves, or describe their jobs.

JP Michel
It made me think about a bunch of cool things. Let me ask you, that what's the most interesting part? If one of the first things you said was like someone whose mandate in their job is so big? Is that? Is that what we're talking about?

Russel Lolacher
Yeah, it could. Let's start with that. Because there are a lot of job descriptions where it's like, we want you to do 100 million things apply now.

JP Michel
Okay, yes, yeah. You know what, you know, what, that can bring us a lot of ambiguity, as you know, and I think people are struggling with work life balance or whatever term you want to use to define that because the ambiguity is overwhelming and it's not managed and at the end of the day, there's no one that you know, wants to work at You're 100 hours or, you know, you have limits on what you can produce. And I think that takes commitment. You take the ambiguity, the ambiguity, you digest it, you make a commitment to, we're going to work on this piece first. And acknowledging limits and constraints. There's a book about this beautiful constraint that I think he's very useful, because I think you could take the challenge mindset too far, which is maybe what you, you know, are probing at, and you just have this pie in the sky thing you show up every day, and it's heavy, it's intimidating. And it's also untrue, I would argue, you know, to pretend like, you know, on our own, you know, you and I are going to foster under understanding and respect to everyone everywhere at the same time in the world is naive. So, the first step would be breaking it down to like a smaller piece, here's the piece we're going to own, we're going to commit to first, and it's okay, that it's not the entire scope. And I would argue that this is a huge issue for most people to get more satisfaction out of their working life, myself included. Because I've set a big mission for myself to change the way that we approach career development. And I have to be honest about what I can commit to and the the the impact that I can have in regards to that, because this is very relevant, for example, for the Dream enablers, who work in career services, at a university, if you can imagine for them, like, they may be an office of six or 10 career advisors, and they serve 30,000 or 40,000. Students. If you look at that incorrectly, you might be crushed by the weight of, you know, all the people that you don't help every day. But you can't start there. Right? You can acknowledge that possibility. But you have to set goals and like what's the actual bite that I can take on today? This week, this month? Otherwise, I think it's it's much too heavy. Is that similar to how you see it?

Russel Lolacher
Yes, I can see an overwhelm. I can see people changing their mindset to be more about what problems do I solve, but feeling like the job market might be difficult for me, whether it's geography, whether it's an organization, really not understanding what their own problems that they fix are? Yeah, I can feel there being a bit of a disconnect, even when you're armed with the tools of the challenge mindset. organizations might not be ready for you or in how they communicate what they're ready for.

JP Michel
I think you're completely right. I think if you show up to an organization that has crystal clarity around the problem you're trying to solve, you're lucky, you know, figuring that out and distilling their why and their purpose. And where there are in the market now where they're trying to go. I mean, that's like a best in class conversation. But I would rather be working with a company that is thinking about those things rather than one. That's not because then it would be very difficult for me to come in and want to solve big problems, and they're not thinking that way. Good call.

Russel Lolacher
So someone's listening to our lovely conversation. And they're curious about where they should start, whether they're a student, or whether they are within their career. And they're like, Okay, maybe maybe I don't know myself well enough. Maybe I need to understand what challenges I fix. I know, I'm talking to a mentor right now of my own, who is telling me that generalists are not what people want, they want people that solve their problems. And great advice, my mind boom, blown. So going through exercises myself of trying to define that for myself, and I'm very mid career. So what would you say would be the next steps from your experience, your challenge mindset? What are the first steps someone can take to understand themselves to go down this path?

JP Michel
Traditionally, the first step that that people take is to do self awareness. That means take stock of your interests, values, strengths, Russel, I don't want our listeners to do that. This is what traditionally our field is based on. But here's why I push back. The person who's listening who feels stuck, I don't want to crystallize their current state. I don't want to double down on who they are today. I want to do something completely aspirational. So I do want to push them to look outside, to look at what's in the world of work. What are the challenges, problems and opportunities. I built a tool to do that call the challenge cards, but there are so many ways, so many ways to do that. If they'd like today, right now they open a new tab. They search for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. And they pick their favorite one just like you did before you I've asked you to pick between two, they're going to pick you know they're going to pick one of the I think 17 goals. If not, if If they don't want to do that maybe they pick their favorite magazine or news article or they pull up bbc.com They pick their favorite news article, and then think about the problems they're trying to solve, then I would encourage them to do that research process, which companies are out there, who's working there? And what did they have to do to be able to do that? I love the idea of informational interviews to go and ask these folks. Hey, like, what are you learning? Okay. In your in your company? They value specialists over generalists. Okay, good. And taking stock of that information. So that's a lot of data from the outside. Then, once you're armed with all this information that inspires you, then you go back inside and say, Well, who do I want to become? To contribute to this challenge that I'm thinking about? This is an aspirational story. People chronically underestimate how much this will, they will change that listener who's listening to us. I want them to look forward to how they can change and how they can grow in their aspirational story, instead of doubling down on who they were in the past. And I think that looking outwards to problem solve is a gateway a great way to do that. And that will be my recommendation.

Russel Lolacher
So I'm going to ask you the big question to wrap it all up, JP, what's one simple action people can do right now to improve their relationships at work?

JP Michel
A lot of what we talked about Russel, you and I is like doing a career exploration process on your own or with a dream enabler. We haven't talked about how you can do it with your peers. Imagine the quality of the conversation by meeting with your co workers, colleagues, peers, people in other departments, your boss, your employees, and asking, what's the problem we're trying to solve? It's a big one. What's our purpose? What's our why? I think if people have an understanding about why is my colleagues showing up to work, you're gonna have a way better understanding of who they are. I love listening. I love listening to your answer of why you pick that challenge. I think the love listening to each other, you kind of forget that even though I've been working with this person for two years or eight years, I still have a long way to learn about who they are. So just by asking, what's the problem we're trying to solve? And why is that important to you? Why do you like working here? I think you'll learn a lot about the people that you work with. And that's going to add a sense of purpose to what you do. So that that will be my recommendation.

Russel Lolacher
That is JP Michel is the founder of SparkPath helping us get to a challenge mindset. And he is the inventor of challenge cards, which I'm very seriously thinking of picking up right this moment. Hi, JP, thank you very much for being here.

JP Michel
Thanks for having me.