Today is March 14th or what mathematicians call 314 – Pi Day. It celebrates the world’s most famous irrational number – called that because it never falls into a repetitious pattern, but instead is always changing. That’s a great description for how we should now manage our careers.
Pick up any newspaper, let alone a business publication these days and you’ll see a universal refrain: the world in which we live and work is undergoing constant and disruptive change. For better or worse, we are enduring one of those periods that will subsequently be viewed as an elbow in history – a time of radical transformation.
Many of us look at all this change and conclude that it’s best to stand pat. And, indeed, sticking with the tried and true is definitely the rational course of action. It’s comfortable because it’s familiar and it’s sensible because it’s always worked for us in the past. In a world experiencing frenetic change, however, it also makes us OBE – overtaken by events.
Now, clearly making change for change’s sake isn’t smart either. So, the Career Activist adopts a special “change management strategy.” It works this way:
First, you adjust your outlook. Admittedly, this step may be the most challenging, but it is also absolutely necessary. Many of us harbor the belief that all of the change in today’s workplace will affect everyone else but us. Or, we’re so intimated by that change, we don’t allow ourselves to consider it. Career Activists recognize that change is discomfiting, but accept that it is now a universal condition which they must manage to their advantage.
Second, you become a change watcher. In today’s always on, information saturated culture, it’s not hard to stay abreast of developments and trends affecting our career field and industry. What is hard is figuring out their implications. So, change watching isn’t a spectator sport; it’s a contact sport. Career Activists find a circle of colleagues with whom they can explore what is happening in their career field and industry and what it could mean for each and all of them.
Third, you act irrationally. Nobody’s crystal ball is perfect, so the key to success is to “adapt without prejudice.” Having made the effort to ferret out the possible impacts of change, we have to act, but be willing to react as events unfold. Career Activists adjust their on-the-job performance or their skill set or their priorities or their goals or whatever else is appropriate to maximize the benefits and minimize the harm of change AND then they readjust as they gain a better understanding of how change will unfold in their career.
From a 20th century perspective, acting and reacting to change is irrational. In the 21st century, it’s a prerequisite for a full and healthy career.
Thanks for reading,