I find it interesting how every year the conversation on the prediction of job growth is followed with such fervour. While I understand the eagerness to predict employment prospects, I am unable to discount the volatility of our environment and the precarious ledge on which all such predictions rest.
In the highly interdependent world that we live in, a September 11, a Tsunami, volcanic ash and even locusts have the ability to overnight disrupt the grand plans and predictions we may have put in place. The disruption could even come from positive events such as technological advances that shift the way an entire industry functions, case in point being the impact of Skype and Whatsapp on the communications industry.
The response to this, of course, cannot be to stop planning or predicting but rather future proofing one’s career (not job) in a manner that deals with the interconnected volatility, uncertainty and disruptive potential of progress. So, under the circumstances, how do we shift the way we think about careers? What ideas do we need to be mindful of if we want to future proof our career?
My work on LeaderSHIFT assumes that the shift in mental models is the bedrock of any change that we wish to embrace. The mountains we have to move are often more in our consciousness. In this case, it is important to remember that a skill set does not make our career future proof as much as our approach to it: What we learn and how we learn and our capacity for resilience and our entrepreneurial mindset.
- Approach to learning: You may have heard - if you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room! Let’s face it, many of us would love to be surrounded by people who bear testimony to our brilliance. However, real learning consists of discovering how little one actually knows. To future proof your career, you must be in a constant beta mode and willing to learn from and through a diversity of forums – tech-based and real life.
- Resilience: Words such as courage, faith, self-esteem all figure in the conversation on future proofing your career. When faced with uncertainty and unfavourable outcomes, it is important to remember that stress is not a result of the circumstances but rather our response to the circumstances. Being able to separate the event and its consequences from our sense of self is important. Without this, we can go down a spiral of helplessness and inaction, which does not help our career or our personal lives. Building capacity to face uncertainty and downturns is an investment in your future career.
- Entrepreneurial mindset: You don’t have to an entrepreneur to have an entrepreneurial mindset i.e. a world view where you see possibilities and potential in your circumstances. People with this mindset are always connecting with others and know how to spot a place where a need is not being fulfilled. Such spaces exist in every organization. We should be willing to remove our blinders from the grind of daily tasks and step away just long enough to see the potential. Those with an entrepreneurial mindset are producers and leaders who will always be in demand no matter the state of the economy.
If I was to identify a powerful common thread between the three suggestions, it would be networks – professional as well are personal. The diversity of our networks helps us learn and grow, while a good network allows us to rise from the fall that we must all inevitably take at some point in our career. The people and opportunity connection also happens best through networks. It is for this reason that when it comes to future proofing your career, your network can well be your net worth!