3 People, 2 Places, and 1 Practice that Will Lead to Your Dream Job

dream job

If you think your dream job is just that (a dream), then think again!!  Your dream job doesn’t have to be a figment of your imagination.  You have everything you need to create your dream job right now!  It’s not going to be easy.  It’s going to take hard work.  But, there’s a great step by step process you can use to get there.

It’s as simple as 3-2-1!  Using a concept called The Proximity Principle, you can achieve your desired career.  As the author Ken Coleman observes:

“The right people, plus the right places, plus the right practices creates opportunity.
That’s the Proximity Principle.”

Ken Coleman
Listen to the interview with Ken Coleman!

Simply stated, you need to put yourself in close proximity to the people you want to be like, in the places where you can progress, and utilizing practices that are proven to work.

Yes, total career satisfaction is totally within your reach!  You should buy the book and read it at least twice, but this brief review will get you started.

3 people that can help lead you to your dream job

The Professionals

Professionals are people in your industry who are excelling at the work you’d love to do.  Typically, a Professional has been in the industry 10+ years longer than you.  They are highly experienced.  Over time, they have used their experience to hone their craft and become excellent in their chosen field.

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They may make their work look effortless.  But, it takes a LOT of hard work to appear effortless.  Some people say, “You have to work decades to be an overnight success.”

Study them.  Model your own behaviors after them.  Imitate their style, but then make it your own.  You’re not copying or plagiarizing – you are studying best practices by watching someone who has already mastered their craft.

Over time, you’ll find that modeling the practices of the Professionals creates your own expertise.  Now all that’s left is to adapt your expertise to your personality and style.

The Mentors

Have you had mentors in your career that helped you succeed?  I know I have.  It’s certain that I wouldn’t be where I am today without the mentors that guided me, especially in my early career.  I would bet that if you polled leaders in any organization, the vast majority of them would say they had great mentors.  What are some of the key qualities of a good mentor?ken coleman - the proximity principle

  • They have wisdom.  Wisdom comes from having good judgement.  Good judgement comes from experience.  And, experience comes from bad judgement.  A good mentor has been in your shoes and has walked the path you are on.  They are able to guide you because they’ve gone the same way you’re going.
  • They care about you.  The Professional probably doesn’t care about you, but that’s mostly because they don’t know you.  A good mentor is someone who wants you to succeed, and more importantly they want to help you succeed.
  • They hold you accountable.  This is arguably the most important quality of a good mentor.  They want to tell you where you’re doing things wrong or are underperforming your expectations.  They know you’re capable of doing better, and they expect that you can do better.

The Producers

Producers are people who run businesses and are creating jobs in your industry.  They are CEOs, team leaders, entrepreneurs, and partners of firms that employ people.  They hustle, grind and are constantly working to win in their business.  While they may not be particularly concerned about you specifically, they are in a position to give you opportunities if it helps them win.

They have a proven track record of winning in your field.  They’re not your teachers or mentors.  A producer is different.  They want to succeed, and they’ll bring you along for the ride but teaching isn’t their primary objective.

Producers typically have a large network of connections that you may be able to tap into.  You need to be learning from them, and this is mostly on-the-job or observational learning.  Any opportunity you can get from a producer can be valuable.

2 places that can help lead you to your dream job

dream jobThe Place Where You Are

Believe it or not, your current location probably isn’t a limiting factor to you achieving your goals.  Maybe you eventually want to be in a completely different city working for a large company doing big things.  Just because you live in a small rural town doesn’t mean you can’t START right where you are.

The Place Where You Are may serve chiefly as part of the discovery process of your career growth.  This can be critically important and foundational in your career growth.  Don’t despise these humble beginnings!

Ken Coleman refers to this as The Law of the Zip Code.  Simply stated, “Everything you need to get started is within your reach.”  With enough tenacity, you can find amazing opportunities where you currently live.  You don’t have to go far to find big opportunities.

A Place to Grow

This is usually going to be a job in your early career.  Now that you’ve gone through the discovery phase and built up some experience, it’s time to start putting those experiences to work.  This is a good time to be thinking about changing your location.  Start getting into closer proximity to the job that you eventually want.

Ken Coleman argues that you need three things in a healthy place to grow:dream job excitement

  1. Alignment of values: If it’s a super-producing, big-name organization and your values don’t align, then you should look somewhere else.  Your supposed dream job could end up being a nightmare.
  2. A healthy challenge: This job should stretch you and force you to level up your game.  If you don’t keep growing, you won’t go anywhere new.
  3. A clear path forward: There needs to be some kind of upward mobility.  This job should offer opportunities for promotion and advancement.

1 practice that can help lead you to your dream job

Create a Web of Connections

This is a key action item to take if you want to get closer to your dream job.  You need a network of people that are in the place where you want to be.  The more people you know, the more opportunities can come your way.

You’ve probably heard this saying, “It’s not about what you know, it’s about WHO you know.”  I think that WHAT you know is also important, but there’s no substitute for valuable network connections.

Start with the people you already know.  If you have 200 people in your phone, and each of them have 200 people in their phone, that’s 40,000 people that are one degree of separation from you!  Use the connections you have to find more connections that you want.  It’s not just who you know, it’s who they know that can help you.

Final Thoughts

Your dream job isn’t unattainable.  In fact, your dream job may be just barely out of reach and you only need to make some small adjustments to reach out and grab it.  The Proximity Principle lays all this out in greater detail, but this is a formula.  It’s not theoretical.  There’s actually a step-by-step plan that you can execute to lead to your goals.

It’ll take time.  It’ll take hard work.  No one becomes an overnight success without years of hard work.  It takes a lot of effort to make things appear effortless.  Keep putting yourself near people and in places that give you opportunities to grow, and you’ll find your dream job isn’t as far away as you think!

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Further Reading


Please leave a comment below!  What’s your top tip for someone looking to change careers or improve their career track?


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