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Your first job is to help other people. Your second is your actual job. The better you are at #1, the easier #2 becomes.
When you think about your career in this manner, nearly everything changes.
Job #1 forces you to value relationships and be other-centered. Instead of thinking first about your own self-interest, you think first about the interests of others: clients, peers, and even your boss.
"How can I be most helpful?" becomes the core of your actions. You constantly look for new ways to add value, and in the process, you become much more useful to the people around you.
For example, with clients, you become a person who serves their interests, instead of a pushy, aggressive type who is always selling something they don't need.
Job #2 is how you get paid, feed your family, and pursue the agenda of the people who hired you.
This is where many altruistic types fall down. They are so eager to help others that they forget about their own agenda. Instead of organizing that critical meeting, they end up spending all morning calling neighbors to see if anyone spotted the lost cat that may - or may not - have been wandering on the edge of their neighborhood.
You want to be helpful, but not hopeless.
This is why it is so critical to understand that you have two jobs. Your second job has specific, practical goals. It has deadlines. It probably even has some elements that don't always make sense to you and that may even drive you crazy. ("Why does my boss make me send him a report every Friday afternoon, even though we meet every Friday morning?")
The critical insight...
Job #1 does not compete with job #2.
Job #1 makes you much better at job #2.
It builds stronger relationships. It connects you more strongly to others. It teaches you to pay attention to the people and the world around you, helping you to perceive how things are working independently of your own narrow agenda.
This only works when you view job #1 as a job in its own right. If you only help people who can help you in job #2, you will soon be revealed as a superficial and somewhat manipulative person. You know the type... someone who is eager to help you when you have a big job, but who won't return your phone calls when you are looking for a job.
Don't be that person.
Take both jobs seriously. Invest equal energy in each. Pursue job #1 with passion, even though it doesn't pay you in cash money.
Not every reward is financial. Some actions feed your soul, enrich your community, and model the sort of behaviors you want your peers, friends, and family members to emulate.
Take equal pride in both jobs. If you are a to-do list person, make to-do lists for both jobs. At the end of each week, month, and year analyze your performance and achievements in both positions.
It's not enough to succeed at the job that pays your bills. That is simply too narrow a vision of the reason you are here on Earth.