what is a root verb, and how do I get one?
What it is you want to be doing every day when you go to work; the actions that should form the core of your career.
Since we were children, our parents or teachers would ask us what we wanted to be when we grew up: singer, actor, doctor, swimmer, musician, and the list would go on. We've always been primed to think of job title, to imagine our jobs in the shape of nouns.
But what if instead of what we want to be, we think instead about what it is we want to do?
We call this thing that we want to do our Root Verb. A way to focus on the activities or actions (verbs) that we get a kick out of doing, instead of job titles (nouns).
thinking in verbs, not nouns
focusing on what you want to be doing
We all know that our job titles don't really do much justice for all the work that we do anyway. And someone else with the same title as yours, even in the same company, may be doing an entirely different set of tasks, with entirely different responsibilities, and using entirely different skills.
This can make figuring out what our next move ought to be even more confusing, if we focus on job titles. What skills should we be building? What companies and roles should we be looking at? Would we even like that more senior role? It's easy to feel stuck in where we are, especially if something deep down tells us that we aren't doing the right job for our passions.
Focusing on our root verb instead lets us skip right to the roles & responsibilities of different roles - for us personally, we have found that this has opened up so many more doors that we thought possible! Industries and functions that seem completely alien from each other suddenly can be seen as logical neighbours when seen in the context of our root verb. Not only could we learn from professionals in other fields, we ourselves can (and have) made the switch ourselves - we can explain why we can do the job, even without the traditional experience or requirements thought needed.
In some cases, it's freed us from job descriptions entirely! We've created our own roles during the interview process with new employers, focused entirely on what it is we want to be doing every day.
We have shared this idea in public talks, with the people we have managed, and even C-level executives we have coached. This is why we want to share this idea with you: so that you too can have that freedom.
freedom from job titles & descriptions
Root Verb: Helping people do the best work they can
- Account Servicing
- Organisational Transformation
- Public Policy Analyst
Solving complex messy problems
- Data Science & Analytics
- Regional Growth Lead
- Senior Finance Manager
- Human Capital Consultant
writing your own root verb
We'll be the first to admit it: it isn't easy! And it is also never done: as we grow with new influences and experiences, so can our Root Verb! We constantly ask ourselves some of the following questions, and hopefully they can help you too:
- What were the favourite parts of all my previous jobs? What's common between them?
- What was the last thing that I did that made me lose track of time?
- What's common about the kinds of jobs I have (or wish I had) applied for?
As a start, the following template might also help:
- Initial verb: Do you want to be creating something? If so, how do you want to be creating: writing, building, coding, etc
- Subject: What is it you want to be creating or impacting? It can vary massively in scale - from documents to teams to companies to societies.
- Impact: How would you describe the desired endstate of whatever it is that you're doing? Precise, efficient, happy, etc
build organisations that are impactful
We are going to keep building tools to help you identify what your Root Verb is, as well as to find the jobs that let you fulfil them. This entire website is also dedicated to all the tools that we're have and will be developing to support you in whatever it is your Root Verb is: your personal toolkit for your professional lives.
Do sign up to be updated on when we release more tools, as well as have additional content and exclusive deals. Do also let us know what tools you might be interested in!