The way you define or see your career shapes your career outcomes. The common metaphor for careers is that they are ladders. With a ladder there is only one way to get to the top and it’s either you are going up or down the ladder. The other big problem with ladders is that you have to wait for the person in front of you to get to the top before you can also do the same.
I had an aha moment a few weeks ago as I was driving to work on a Saturday morning. I live 20km from my work place. There are probably two different routes I can use. One is about 5km longer but it has very little traffic. The one I use more frequently is shorter but much busier and during the school term can take me up to an hour to do a journey that i can normally do in half the time. So on this particular day there were two haulage trucks in front of me and for a good 10km which is half the distance I had to do I followed rather “impatiently ” behind the two trucks. Because I normally use this route during peak hour, I never thought to overtake the trucks. Then it occurred to me that it was a Saturday and usually the road is clear and so I could actually safely overtake the haulage trucks. I did that and the road ahead was completely clear yet I had already wasted time following “guys ” who were not really in a hurry to get anywhere.
Sometimes we do the same with our careers. Dutifully following as if on a ladder those in front of us. Many times they are probably not really in a hurry to go anyway.
My own career metaphor is that my career is a journey. There are several routes available to get to my desired destination. At times traffic is heavy and sometimes the road is clear. At such times, one can safely overtake and gain valuable time.
In our country where official unemployment figures are shocking, it’s easy to dutifully follow behind “haulage trucks” and conclude that the job market is closed. I would dare you to check and see if it’s safe to overtake. You will be surprised at the opportunities that exist. At this stage I am not advocating that people quit their jobs before doing the necessary due delligence. I have used the words “safely overtake” three times already in this write up.
Because my career is a journey, that I am actively managing/driving I can decide on the route to take, the speed to go at, when to lay by and ultimately I know where I want to get ie my destination.
So what is your career metaphor? Your feedback is valuable and lets me know I have others with me on my journey. Send through your comments and questions and let’s get the discussion going.