Creating Your Career
This is a preview to the chapter Creating Your Career from the book Career in Your Suitcase by Jo Parfitt.
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What Do You Believe?
The beliefs you hold about the world and work, and the rules you think guide how they operate, are very important considerations. They are beliefs about what constitutes work and a career. They are beliefs about the world and how it works. For example, believing opportunities come to those who work hard will have an impact on the effort you are willing to put into achieving your goals. The beliefs you hold about yourself and your own abilities will also have an impact on what you see as an achievable and realistic goal for yourself. They can provide energy as well as drain energy. They can lead to opportunity or they can put up barriers to opportunity. You may have touched on some of these themes when completing the Family Inheritance exercise in Chapter 2 — Find Your Passion.
Take some time to journal some of the beliefs you hold that impact your career, and challenge the validity of these beliefs where you believe useful. Our tendency is, unfortunately, to generalise some (often negative) experiences and form a belief based on this generalisation. Challenge yourself to see where you are generalizing and look for stories (your own and other people’s) that contradict this generalisation. Breaking through some of these beliefs can help you to recognise and respond to opportunities you may otherwise miss. If you discover a belief, and its resulting pattern in your life, that you wish to change and you are not successfully able to change it on your own, enlist the support of your Blue Sky Team or a professional.
Career resilience, an essential skill for expats and those creating a portable career, is defined by career coach Carole Pemberton as ‘holding the beliefs that enable flexibility in thought, behaviours and actions when facing adversity’. Adversity can be seen as any situation which challenges your ability to come up with solutions and alternatives. According to Carole, career resilience is about holding onto the beliefs about yourself that allow you to maintain the flexibility needed for resilience.
Think about the life and work experiences you’ve had and the lessons you have taken from those experiences. They can be about how hard work will or will not be rewarded, working in teams and formal organisations, whether or not you will find support when you need it, and much more.
For example: In this economic climate no one is looking for new hires. I won’t apply because who needs all that rejection? Or: My education and experience have prepared me for only one career path.
1. What are some beliefs you hold about the world and work?
2. What are some of the rules you believe apply to finding work that’s right for you?
Go back and underline any words in number one and two that locate the control outside yourself. Rephrase them in a way that gives you a choice as to how to respond and deal with them.
For example: With all the cutbacks, reorganisations and mergers...
First draft: no one is looking for new hires. I won’t apply because who needs all that rejection?
Rephrased: there are new unplanned opportunities being created for someone just like me somewhere. I will keep looking to find those opportunities.
3. How can you rephrase any beliefs that do not serve you, so they produce a more constructive, helpful and resilient perspective? For example, self-reflection is essential for me to understand what I need to learn to make good choices in my work and life.
4. How will you use these rephrased beliefs and rules to better serve your portable career?
Changing how you think about the way the world and work operate will change the results you generate. Make sure your beliefs and understanding of what rules apply are well informed, positively formulated and give you the control of choosing a response that serves you. Gathering this information and challenging your beliefs as necessary can reduce the amount of frustration you may experience in your career travels. The Blue Sky Team you have created to work with in the last chapter may also help you find the beliefs you hold which need to be challenged, as they are usually easier to recognise in someone else. You will be able to do it much more easily for someone on your team than yourself. Having done this exercise and reflected on it, write down the beliefs you will use to guide you towards your portable career in Your Career Passport.
A Changing World
As the world continues its shift to a truly global economy, new kinds of leadership are required. According to some, this new leadership style will use many of the skills traditionally associated with women. Experts agree that women’s focus on relationships, comfort with diversity, refusal to compartmentalise skills, talents and lives, innate scepticism of hierarchy and, most importantly, desire to lead from the middle (not from the top) are all key attributes required by tomorrow’s leaders. These are leadership skills women have traditionally used to keep families together and to organise volunteers to come together to positively impact their communities, according to Dr Musimbi Kanyoro, the World YWCA Secretary General as quoted in New York Times’ About.com.
Business and technology writer Daniel Pink in his book, A Whole New Mind says we are entering the ‘conceptual age’, a time when right-brain skills such as design and storytelling will become far more important. He says transformative abilities like empathy and creativity are not so easily outsourced and will be key employability factors.
The talents, experiences, attitudes and skills women bring with them are precisely those needed in what Seth Godin calls the ‘connection economy’. According to Sally Helgesen, author of The Female Advantage, this confluence of abilities and required leadership capacities is creating unprecedented opportunities for women to play a vital role in leading transformational change in organisations and communities. Management and training consultant Mary Farmer notes that women are better at seeing the human side, quicker to cut through competitive distinctions of hierarchy and ranking, and impatient with cumbersome protocols.
Mary goes on to say that bestselling author Esther Wachs Book, who wrote Why the Best Man for the Job is a Woman, defines ‘new paradigm leaders’ as those who combine many of the managerial talents traditionally attributed to men with many of the stereotypically ‘weaker’ female skills. In detailed interviews with 14 of the top female managers in the USA, Book concluded that new paradigm leaders achieve success for three main reasons:
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