Literature provides direction for meaningful exploration.....
Career transitions are hard. Forced firings, voluntary exits and directional divergences all come with their own challenges and required degrees of resilience. Even changes that begin full of hope and optimism often meander into the unknown and downright terrifying. It is not uncommon to weather the gamut of emotions that is associated with the grief cycle as one goes through a career change.
Mentees and myself have all had the opportunity to go through what can be described as a profound learning experience. The career change experience is also a friends and family special, with intimate details laid bare for scrutiny and words of encouragement. How the phoenix rises from the ashes is a direct correlation to will of the self and power of what I refer to as the Fellowship.
Success is not only about bringing your A game and your best self to the party. Absolutely! That is a must. But there is more, that matters more. Advice, lecture and counsel alike, from motivational authors to medium posts extol “if you want it and believe it, you can have it”.
Perhaps that’s true for acing your SATs, and somewhat true for getting in shape but it couldn’t be further from practical when making a career transition or for that matter succeeding in life. Bill Burnett and Dave Evans discuss this concept in their seminal book on “Designing your Life”, where they discuss the right way to find a job and the power of community in transforming your life. They nailed it!
What's the lesson?
I learnt my lesson later in life than I needed to. My parents raised me to believe I could achieve anything I want if I worked hard and never gave up. So, I studied..really hard! Genetic prewiring made the learning easier and praise and rewards kept me going. Valedictorian, university topper, near perfect scores in SAT, GRE and GMAT, job offers with top pay and at choice employers, and success in the workplace.
But I wanted to discover more, understand what my life path was, what my work/career path should be. So, I spent time at the drawing board, reading, talking to a little circle of trusted advisors and brainstorming solutions. Months later, nothing. Zip. Nada. I was no further along to an answer than where I had started. Sure, I had a lot more knowledge and hence choices but a clear path forward? Nope!
It is relatively easy to follow a trodden path and re-engineer the criteria for success that is defined on generic terms but the process does not hold ground in the exercise of building anything meaningful. At first I attributed the lackluster performance to fading gumption. Was it mid-life crisis? Though I hadn’t quite reached mid-life and it wasn’t quite a crisis. (It was a good excuse to get a yellow corvette stingray but financial prudence beckoned)
Right counsel made the answer quite apparent. You need to surround yourself with the right types of good people (your Fellowship) to help you traverse the path and find your answers. And it isn’t a one-time static exercise in the type or choice of companions, it’s a fluid process as you learn more and discover more about yourself and the constantly changing world.
Who can help?
Here’s the Fellowship that’s helpful for a career transition (in no specific order of importance, of course you come first):
The list and process may seem daunting. It is. With everything else to manage, where is the time to go find all these people and how to go about this process? Patience is key. This is not an overnight fix.
This isn’t about going to small or large events and painting the room red aka networking (though if you can do that, kudos! Most networking events left me feeling like wallpaper.) I say, start small. Look at your immediate circle, your co-workers, friends, managers. Who can play which role? Who can connect you to someone in another role – LinkedIn is your best friend for stalking here. Ask one to connect to one.
A close friend met 96 people in six months, and she is an introvert. I believe if she can, I can and we all can. Why wait for the pink slip to arrive? Start today and build slowly. Convert “busy time” at work to “build time”, so that you can engineer your own career transition. It is an active process requiring mindfulness.
It’s a lot of coffee and a lot of driving. So, buckle up! It’s a change in traditional approach to managing a transition where our first instinct is to shut the doors, curl into a ball (eat ice-cream) and then work hard on aspects we can fully control. That approach may work but it’s not guaranteed to be a fulfilling process or bring the best outcomes. Why not surround yourself with the right people to help and guide you in the journey?
On the occasions that I have observed people apply this approach not just during career transitions but also on an everyday basis, results do take a bit longer to achieve. But those results are bigger, better and bolder, concocted from the collective wisdom of so many well-wishers. As with all collective undertakings, pay the favor back and pay the support forward, to everyone who helped and to everyone who needs help.
You can find Dave Evans and Bill Burnett’s book here.
Here is also an insanely good article on becoming insanely well-connected.
Please press the Tweet button. It helps more people see it. Thanks!
COPYRIGHT 2017 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED