In Episode 028, Don Gleason explains why passion is needed at work

When Don Gleason was a child, he observed the impact pollution was having on his favorite fishing streams. That sparked a career dedicated to cleaning up the environment.

He got his bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Wisconsin in 1982. But, that was bad timing because a big recession was underway. When Don was applying for jobs, he got 454 rejection letters from firms saying they were not hiring anyone.

So, Don became a U.S. Air Force officer instead. His job in civil engineering allowed him to focus on environmental issues. He retired as a full-bird colonel who commanded three civil engineer squadrons and a mission support group.

Years before Don wanted to retire from the military, he spent time thinking about what he wanted to do in civilian life as well as what he did not want to do. He knew for sure he did not want to be managing people’s toilets, the lights in a building, or the heat and air conditioning.

Don wanted to find a company where he could work in different areas of environmental compliance, conservation or restoration to clean up old toxic sites and help keep America’s waters clean. Unfortunately, after he started a new job, Don was eventually nudged into role uncovering cost efficiencies for U.S. Department of Engineering projects. After working in that position for a while, Don knew it was not his forte.

So he started training in his off hours to become certified with the John Maxwell Team. At age 56, Don started his own company to help people transition out of their jobs into opportunities better suited for their skills, talent and, more importantly, their experiences.

I admire Don’s devotion to helping people find jobs that are ideally suited for their personalities as well as their career and life goals. We all tend to spend an enormous amount of time working for a living. It is a tremendous energy drain to be trapped in a dead-end job.

Yet, when people desire change, they usually go about it the wrong way by sprucing up their resumes without giving any consideration to what they really want to do. It’s a bad way to step into the final stage of a productive career.

There are a lot of jobs available to people who are looking for work today. But, they rarely stop to ask, “Do I want to do this job?” Rather, they only ask, “Can I do this job?” In reality, they can probably do a lot of things. However, do they really want to invest 2,000 or 3,000 hours of their time every year toward that activity? When people ask themselves that question, then the answer is often very different.

Don read a study recently that suggested 75% of people are disengaged at work, and that often comes back to a lack of purpose. By the time people come to Don for career coaching, many times they have already mentally checked out of their jobs.

If there is one thing Don wishes he had done earlier in life, it would be to take a personality assessment when he was still in college, if not high school. Doing so would have helped him understand who he is naturally and why he seems to do certain things the same way every time.

Armed with that type of knowledge, people can either see why they keep being trapped in frustrating experiences, or they can find jobs and start businesses that are ideally suited to their personalities and character strengths.

Don noted that if you are 52 right now and don’t know what you want to be doing at age 59, then you need to work with someone now who has the skills to help get you to that destination. Because, if you keep doing the same things, nothing will change. You’ll keep wandering in circles wondering whether there is more to life than you’re currently experiencing.

To help people develop a new perspective for their lives or their jobs, Don is offering a complimentary 30-minute conversation to anyone who wants to connect with him. Just look for the Don L. Gleason profile at LinkedIn and send him a connection note indicating you heard or read about Don on Forward From 50.

That’s all I have for this week’s show. I’ll have another inspirational interview on the next episode of the Forward From 50 podcast. Thanks for listening. If you like this show, please consider leaving a review wherever you download the episodes.