The power of career re-invention
Working people today must re-invent themselves to succeed in life and career. Some started on the wrong foot or got stuck in careers they hate. Many believe in “jobs-skills mismatch” and never tried jobs that are out of their comfort zone or for which they didn’t study in school. Still others hopped from one job to another, picked up skills, but don’t realize that these same skills stand in the way of becoming what they really want to be.
Today, successful people reinvent themselves and transcend careers. Lifetime employment, as welder, farmer or fisherman for 40 years, is no longer the default position. Moving from one career to another is more rewarding, useful, and longevity enhancing. Time has changed.
The environment in which your career can flourish is more volatile and uncertain. Youngsters spend two-thirds of their life in school and wonder what careers await them in the real world.
Here’s a reality check. The world doesn’t owe you a career. Your career is something you make. Nobody will hand it to you. Jobs aren’t won through lottery. You need passion, hard work, skill and smartness to get your dream job.
No one among the 7 billion people in the world today is going to be as interested in your career as you. Your friends or relatives are all busy thinking of their own. Learn to fend for yourself. Once you get used to it, you’ll find it natural and joyful. George Bernard Shaw said, “This is the true joy in life, the being recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”
Give me a break! This world was never made for your own convenience.
Things are made twice – in the mind and physically. Jobs happen first in the mind, and then at the workplace. Dream and visualize the job you want. Lawrence of Arabia cautions, “Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that all was vanity. The dreamers of the day are dangerous people, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible.”
Here’s another reality – you can’t be anything you want to be. I heard otherwise from career counselors, and I got frustrated. You cannot leap tall buildings in a single bounce, run faster than a speeding locomotive, carry tons of weight, or see through a bank vault – unless you were born in planet Krypton. Careers have dimensions, like a box. Understand the bounds of the box. Careers specify skills for success – that’s the box. If you have no skills, that’s your limitation. To defy the limits, learn the skills.
Careers can give you power. Develop a mastery of what you do, until you can do it better than anyone else. This could be in selling, cooking, teaching, writing, speaking, or being a parent. Mastery gives you power in that particular arena. You’ll know you’re the best when you faced tough challenges and triumphed. Every time you face greater challenges and triumphed despite the odds, you will develop more confidence and skill.
Now, imagine that you can bring the confidence, the skill and the power you have developed in your career to all the other aspects of your life. You’ve mastered the eight corners of a tri-dimensional career box. You’re ready for bigger boxes elsewhere.
To prove equal to new and different career boxes, re-invent yourself. You don’t start from scratch. Your mastered competencies are a good starting point. But you must realize that different boxes require different sets of skills, knowledge and attitude. Discard some of what you now have and learn new ones, to succeed in a new box.
If you’re a successful employee and want to be an entrepreneur, don’t expect a fixed income at regular intervals. It’s a new ball game where the rules are entirely different. Reinvent yourself as you live your life. Life does not usually turn out the way it should or shouldn’t. Life just turns out the way it does.
Reinvention is transforming your way of being – not just changing what you’re doing.
(Ernie is the 2013 Executive Director and 1999 President of the People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP); Chair of the AMCHAM Human Capital Committee; and Co-Chair of ECOP’s TWG on Labor and Social Policy Issues. He also chairs the Accreditation Council for the PMAP Society of Fellows in People Management. He is President and CEO of EC Business Solutions and Career Center. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org)