I just finished watching a movie with my wife called Hope Springs, we had some expectations going into this movie, the cast was amazing etc…however the movie was maybe aimed at a different demographic than my wife and I. We however persisted and watched the whole movie, the final four minutes was nice, while the rest was kinda okay. And for a movie this was an okay approach, yet how many of us take this approach in other parts of our lives when perhaps we shouldn’t – how many of us take this approach with our careers? If this is potentially you, I encourage you to spend another couple of minutes reading the rear of this post.
As the title of this post states your career is all on you, so when was the last time you gave your career a once over. Let me put it this way, if you took your career out on a date would you make a second date? Or would you cut your losses and take another career out the following Saturday night? Being a Human Resources Professional I interact with a lot of people, and both because of my profession and my mindset I make the time to examine and discuss people’s career stories. Super quick story, the first time I had a sit down meeting with my CEO at that time I had a colleague with me, our GM HR set it up as an introduction, and my colleague wanted to know about the company and what direction the CEO was taking the company etc. My approach was quite different, here I was sitting down with a very successful businessperson in not only a CEO role but a very public CEO role, I wanted to understand his journey – how did he get to where he was (and how could I do it faster). The meeting was scheduled for 30 minutes, an hour into the meeting the CEO realised the time and we finished up our meeting. Now getting a meeting with the CEO was amazing, spending an extra 30 minutes of unscheduled time with him was confirmation. People like to talk about themselves, particularly successful people if you approach it in a way that lets them know you admire them and would value anything you can learn from their journey. Case in point is Steve Jobs, I have the fantastic biography ‘Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson‘ on my nightstand, when that work was started and Jobs spent time talking with Isaacson he knew he was dying. He valued sharing his story so that his children could understand a little more about who he was and what he did, and we as the public are I believe very fortunate to also be able to gain some insight into the man who has had such an impact. The point about Steve Jobs and how he chose to spend some of this final months is an extreme one, what I’m trying to get across here is that if you have an opportunity to talk with someone whose career you admire and wish to learn from, chances are they will be very willing to talk to you about it – if nice guys finish last, then shy guys finish dead last.
So talking to successful people is a great way to learn, however talk is cheap as they say – to complete the equation you need to reflect how this information might inform your own situation, then take action. My second role in Human Resources I was really happy with and very grateful for the opportunity to gain that role and the experiences that came with it – within nine months I handed in my notice and went to another organisation. Nothing had changed, I was happy, learning a lot and earning okay money at that point. The issue for me was that looking around the office I saw a bunch of happy people, many of whom had cashed in their careers for a job that they were happy with, I realised at that point that I needed to get out and get out fast. Since that role I’ve worked in another five or so roles, moved countries and learned a great deal – I know in my bones however that had I not reflected on my career wants and taken action, that I would still be there today.
If you’re not taking ownership of your career then just like a runaway car, how do you expect to arrive at your destination not only in one piece but at all?