Buck the Habit

Buck the Habit

Mexican pottery has long been prized in the United States. Its unique colors and designs make it attractive on the dinner table or on display. In recent years, however, it’s also been stigmatized as potentially life threatening. You see, Mexican pottery is traditionally made with a lead based glaze. Its brightly hued Aztec figures can kill you.

For obvious reasons, that reality threatens the livelihood of Mexico’s 2+ million potters. Happily, a boron-based glaze has now been developed. It has two important advantages: First, it’s absolutely harmless to humans. And second, it costs significantly less to buy and to use. As a consequence, those potters who have adopted the new glaze have seen their income grow from less than $1,000 to $40,000 per year selling their crafts to the U.S. market.

Given all of those advantages, one would think that making the switch to the new glaze would be a no-brainer. And yet, only about half of Mexico’s potters have done so? Why? In most cases, it’s force of habit. Doing the same old things the same old way is just too comfortable and seemingly safe. And doing something new—no matter how clearly beneficial—is just too hard and potentially risky for them to accept. So, they fall back on habit and, in the process, kill their chance at success.

What’s that got to do with someone’s career in this country?

In many cases, those of us who are now in transition are staying with a lead-based approach to job search. We’re relying on habit to hunt for a new or better job. We think we can find a decent position in today’s terrible job market just as we did in yesterday’s benign environment. We’re looking for employment in the 21st Century the same way we looked for employment in the 20th Century. And that can kill a career.

So, what’s the alternative? Buck the habit. Switch to a safer, more productive approach to job search. If you’ve been laid off or otherwise forced out of work, look for what I call a “defibrillator job.”

Defibrillator jobs have two characteristics:

  • They provide enough money for you to get by. They ensure you can still pay the bills, and they put you back into the employed workforce, with the stature that status provides.
  • They provide the time and space for you to shock your career back to health. They enable you to upgrade your skills, expand your network of contacts and do all of the other things necessary to survive and prosper in the 21st Century workplace.

Why do you need to go to all that trouble? Because in today’s world of work, your career is seriously sick whenever you’re in an involuntary transition. In most cases, that’s not your fault, but it is reality. And, you have to deal with it. You have to take the proactive steps to build up the strength, endurance and reach of your career. Do that, and you’ll get yourself back on track and on your way to the career you deserve.

How do you find “defibrillator jobs? I’ll explore that in my next post.

Thanks for reading,
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