How do we lead our own career?

How do we lead our own career?

3 Keys to Moving Up

1. Find what makes your heart sing

What were you put on this earth to do? And when you’re considering the ‘thing’, think about the emotional hit that it gives you. For example take engineers or accountants or IT roles, they generally love problem solving. This can involve collecting lots of data, understanding context, determining constraints, managing variables and then solving the problem.

But that’s not the end of it – Problem solving gives us an emotional hit in some way. It means that we enjoy helping people or we love creating or building something. Or we are passionate about leaving our impact on the planet in some way. Understanding what this means for us is key. What does problem solving truly give us?

In this way it means that the job or the business is just our vehicle to achieve this. For me I love people potential. It was part of every job that I’ve ever had. It didn’t really matter what role I did, all I wanted to do was make sure the people around me could do their best every single day, contribute to a great environment, and got to live their potential.

Work out what makes your heart sing, understand the emotional context, and then find the job or the business that is the vehicle for that.

2. Live your values

Work in an environment that is congruent with your values. Life is too short! An average career is only around 2000 weeks so why waste a week of it if you are somewhere that doesn’t feel right or goes against your values.

Now please don’t just jump ship, have a plan. Firstly work out what your values are, ie what is important to you. For example if diversity is important to you, and your company only pays lip service to it, then start researching those that are different and target them in your next job search.

If you are somewhere that supports your values, let them know. It’s great to give positive feedback to those leading organisation, sometimes they don’t hear enough of the good stuff! Remember what gets rewarded gets repeated.

3. Review your focus

It’s important as you go through career phases to take time out and review your focus. For example I’m often asked how to stage a career ie what should we focus on in our 20s, 30s, 40s etc.

The precursor to this is that we really need to make sure we do good work throughout. That’s a given! And then spend the 20s exploring that – do good work, work hard, build a reputation, and complete projects. Then in the 30s make sure we are on top of networking. Find and stay connected with sponsors. Sponsors aren’t necessarily mentors (although mentors can play this role). Sponsors love you and your work and will advocate for you.

And in the 40s, if you haven’t already done so ask yourself ‘if not now, when?’! And tweak accordingly. In your 40s you are half way through your career so it’s important to take stock and reflect on where you are. Which leads to hitting even more strides in our 50s & 60s!

We’re in a world now where our career is more likely to be a tapestry or a mosaic, as opposed to the traditional ladder rungs. This means that we have to be good at what we do, and know why we do it. We have to build the networks, get connected, and keep that going.  And let’s also make a difference in our organisations, through living our values and encouraging others to do the same.

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