Why Are You On The Planet?

When I begin a course at NYU, where I teach Interviewing Strategies, the first thing I do is have my students answer a question on a note-card. That question is, “Why are you on the planet?” My request is usually followed by a brief moment of silence as my students nervously and curiously glance around the room at each other, wondering if they had heard the question right. Inevitably, one brave soul slowly inches his or her hand into the air to confirm what I wanted from them. Once the question is confirmed, they begin to address the task at hand and write down why they are on the planet. Some write vigorously while complaining that their isn’t enough room on the card, others write a couple of bullet points down and look at me like I’m the nutty professor, while others just sit there staring into space without any clue as to how to answer it. In truth, discovering the why of our choices from careers, to romance or where to live is a difficult task if authentically addressed. The reality is that we are all conditioned to believe in certain things based on information that we are given from “outside” influences like parents, religions, advertising, older sisters and brothers and the like. During an NYU class discussion, one student said that he was on the planet to make as much money as possible. I chuckled at his straightforward answer, but was grateful for his honesty. When I asked him why this was his goal, he just said that it is what he should do. I again asked him why, and after a brief silence, he admitted that he didn’t really know.

And herein lies the ultimate challenge that I face as a Career Consultant. It is not to say that one choice is necessarily better than another, but to guide whoever is in front of me to know why they have chosen their career. In doing so, they are instantly propelled into a more meaningful job. By answering the why, a person finds substance and meaning, even if they have discovered that they are not in the careers that they want. This awareness is valuable because it serves as a catalyst to change; either to find value in their current career or by changing careers. By the end of the seven weeks, the student mentioned above still wanted to make as much money as possible. Yet, he had changed his perspective and decided that along with that goal, he needed to develop deeper relationships as well in order to have fulfillment in that quest. I look forward to begining the discovery process with you soon.

Spend some time thinking about why you are on the planet.

To find out more about career consultation or to set up an appointment, send an e-mail to shawn@bricolageconsulting.com

About Shawn Athanasios

A little bit about me. I received my BA from California State University, Northridge in Speech Communication and my MA in Culture and Communication from New York University (NYU). My Master’s degree was within the field of Interpersonal Communication and Conflict Management and my thesis topic was Meta-Cognition and Human Defensiveness. I wrote about the importance of individuals learning how to understand their defensiveness and negative thinking habits as a way to improve the overall cohesiveness within their human relationships. Curerently, I am an Adjunct Professor at SAE Institute, and my pasrt teaching experience includes several of the top Universities in the U.S. (NYU, LIM College, Pace University, Manhattan College & Georgia State University). My teaching experience includes the following courses: Interviewing Strategies, Intro to Human Communication and Culture, Interpersonal Communication, Small Group Communication, Principals and Theories of Communication, Public Speaking and Theories of Speech Communication I decided to create my own Coaching Business (JAAS Coaching) under the umbrella of Personal and Career Development for those looking to enhance their current profession, change careers, discover their deepest passions, communicate and manage conflict more effectively, achieve high levels of motivation, and find balance with their total self by offering a holistic approach to career and personal development. My eBook, "The Soul Search Before the Job Search," encompasses all of my work as a Personal and Executive Coach. My website/blog is www.JAAScoaching.comLinks to an external site. I have had many fulfilling experiences that include being raised in Laos, Ghana, India & Egypt by parents of the U.S. Foreign Service and Diplomatic community, teaching ESL in South Korea, serving as a Primary Counselor for kids out of Juvenile Hall, and mentoring grade school children through a Psychologist’s referred program. In addition, I am proud to have received a full scholarship for my Masters Degree at NYU, to have been the sole recipient of the Rosenberg scholarship and for graduating Magna Cum Laude upon completion of my graduate degree. I also presented two papers at the New York Speech Communication Association (NYSCA) conference while at Graduate School where I discussed the importance of taking full ownership of one’s shortcomings as essential to inducing change within oneself and one’s environment and how to be an effective interpersonal communicator. And finally, I was voted Faculty of The Year and Georgia State University after just one semester on the job! The article can be found on my website/blog. My volunteer work is reflected through participating in Buddhist Activities as a member of the Soka Gakkai International, the largest Buddhist lay organization in the world. Previously, I was the Young Men’s Division Leader for Houston District, I transcribed the World Tribune to audiotapes for the blind Buddhist members, I published an article in the Soka Gakkai’s Living Buddhism magazine and was a volunteer staff writer for the organization’s newspaper (The World Tribune). I continues to lead group discussions on Nichiren Buddhist Theory.
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