The career conversation is a tricky one. After all, the organization provides you a check for doing your job today, and talking about tomorrow is not often on the radar of the leader because they have lots to worry about. I have a 30-30-40 philosophy on talent conversations (30 past, 30 present, and 40 future). The 40 is there to pull us into the future of our business and our own career so we can be intentional about preparing for it. The reality, while it is nice for organizations and leaders to support that conversation, it is ours to own.
I am preparing to have a conversation with a group at a conference around the topic of owning your career, and the first point is simply that – decide that it is yours. The supporting point is without being angry that someone is not taking care of you.
Too often I see people approach ownership with a caveat. I will own it . . . .
- Caveat 1 – . . . if I have to.
- Caveat 2 – . . . since my leader does not care.
- Caveat 3 – . . . since we all know I am just a number to this company and my job could be gone tomorrow.
- Caveat 4 – . . . but I am still angry about the last leader who failed to see my gifts and contributions in my last job.
A critical ingredient to successfully navigating personal change lies in our perspective. After spending a year facilitating a career transitions program called Shifting Gears I have seen ownership with and without caveats. When we bring in unfinished business (what William Bridges refers to as endings in his book Transitions) it sabotages the effort and will block that path to success. When our endings/caveats are gone, the personal transformations are nothing short of amazing. I love seeing those stories unfold.
So when you commit to owning your career, start by asking yourself these questions:
- Why am I doing this? (5-10 bullets)
- What are the things I expect to get out of it?
- How do I feel about what I have to do?
- What help do I need and from who?
Leverage a close friend to proof your answers for caveats / unfinished endings.
If you are a leader, it is not your job to do this work for your people, but it is your job to support it. Support is often just about listening.
Perspective shifting resources
It is hard to shift our perspective on our own. I recommend a few of books in my library. LinchPin by Seth Godin, Mastery by George Leonard, or Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer are all books that help paint a picture of ownership that might help you make a healthy shift to ownership without baggage.
One video I have used in training to help people see the power of perspective is Celebrate What’s Right With The World by DeWitt Jones. It does an amazing job of painting a picture of how perspective changes everything. It is 20 minutes well spent.