Stuck and blocked. Blocked and stuck….
If I had a cappuccino for every time I heard this from a new grad or young professional employee mentee, I would probably be the most caffeinated person on the planet.
Stuck and blocked. Paralysed in contemplating the future.
And contemplating not just ANY future… but future success in their careers.
You would think visualising an ideal career or accomplishment would be an uplifting exercise in reconnecting with your own life dreams… wouldn’t you?
For so many people, what was once an inspiring vision of professional achievement is an unwelcome diversion, and the reasons for this come down to four key myths, as outlined below:
1. Career success entails a high level of risk
You know what I think when I hear this?
“What makes you believe that what you’re doing now doesn’t already have risks?”
After all, we live in a time where the threats of downsizing or being made redundant are steadily increasing, as artificial intelligence and economic crises erode traditional jobs and employability skills.
It may seem a provocative thought, but that’s really not my point. My challenge to the mentee is to look at where they want to go professionally, and reframe their fears about going towards it.
We examine the resources they already have in place in terms of achieving their goal, what the actual – as opposed to the imagined – cost would be, and how might their PRESENT career status have risks and vulnerabilities that they are accepting.
What we tend to discover together is that, if a career goal is important enough in the priorities of the mentee, there is always a way to orient themselves towards it. And, through the process, we reframe ‘career success’ as a goal that has not a low, not a high, but a manageable level of risk.
2. Career success demands a new beginning in unfamiliar circumstances
This myth obscure the fact that our experience and skills are more transferable than we believe.
Now, it’s true that sometimes pursuing career success can put us into situations where we may not rely on previous professional competencies to guide us. And it’s true that if you’ve trained as a doctor, it may be difficult to start over as a professional tennis player.
But it’s ALSO true that, very often you can RE-PURPOSE your background in new scenarios, if you have the right support and guidance and a step-by-step plan for thriving in a new environment.
This is why, for example, so many army officers later become successful business leaders when they leave the military – applying their organisational discipline into an environment that, on the surface, looks very different from their initial field.
So, yes, while targeting career success will often stretch and challenge you, and require you to attain new professional abilities and experiences, if you scratch beneath the surface, you will so often discover a network of helpful and appropriate abilities that will help you navigate the transition.
3. Career success depends on high-level qualifications
This is something I hear from motivated young professionals who have a lot of gifts and talents, but without the academic or professional credentials that might have traditionally positioned them to exercise these traits.
Again, this is where it’s important to examine the time that we are privileged enough to be living in…
Technology and online learning are exploding the opportunities to access the education that once required a hefty time and money investment. MOOCs and internet learning platforms are creating archipelagos of continuously updated knowledge – from the academic like Coursera, to the more technical like Udacity to the more vocational like Udemy…
In other words, gone are the days when only an MBA would allow you to achieve and enjoy career success.
Because, apart from the fact that, if you really want a Masters in Business Administration, you can still study and earn one online, in your own time, for a fraction of the cost it would once have cost you… we are actually globally moving towards a much more cross-disciplinary approach when it comes to education and employability.
High-level qualifications are thus both more attainable than most people believe but also no longer the only gateway to a high-flying career.
4. Career success requires limited or hard-to-access resources
Finally, we come to this myth – that career success is dependent on resources that seem totally out-of-reach.
What kinds of resources? Everything from having enough cash, to having more time – to retrain, to network, to build a business – to having the right connections, and so on.
My answer to this myth is that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’.
So, when I work with success-hungry young professionals, firstly we take an inventory to see what resources – industry contacts, lesser-used but still-accessible skills, favours owed to them by influencers – that they actually enjoy ALREADY…
And THEN, we build in the element of necessity in achieving their desired career milestones.
Because there is nothing like raising the level of necessity – how much of a priority something is to you – to free up resources – creative and otherwise – in the mind, heart and schedule.
And in the personal development plans we design together the necessity factor plays a big role in ensuring mentees fulfill their commitment to the career success goals they set themselves.
In the end, myths can only hold you back if you allow them to dominate your mind-set.
Because once you have the guidance and support to change your mind-set – literally, how you evaluate and view a situation – the myths fade away, and you start to live in a new, empowered reality where you no longer have to deny your dreams.
To work with me one-on-one to take your professional and personal performance to new levels, please check out the LIMITLESS track of services at my website, www.leonidasalexandrou.com