The one thing you can count on during your forty or more years of work is constant change. The pace of change in the business world has never been greater. The vitality of organizations and their employees careers are shaped by multiple, ever-shifting forces—global competition, the health of regional and world economies, consumption trends, monetary policies, global politics and rapid advances in technology. In today’s business environment, you cannot afford to be a passive observer. Like any great CEO, you must take charge. You must be proactive. All too often, however, I have watched professionals let their careers “happen” to them without taking time for proper reflection and forethought. In some ways, this mindset is not entirely surprising. Up until the point when we
embarked on our careers, most of us were pulled through an educational system that told us which courses to take, what books to read, when to be in class, when to take exams, and so on. Though we applied ourselves to the task at hand, we became accustomed to the predictability of this environment. Educators had little or no time to prepare us for the unruliness of the real world or encourage us to think about the bigger picture—who we are, what we are good at, and where we want to go.
I’ve met a number of executives who have carried this passive mindset into their careers. They become comfortable in a role or at a company and fail to consider the importance of growing—continually enriching and shaping their backgrounds. “I’m being paid reasonably,”they tell themselves, “My job is fine. I feel secure.” In other cases, professionals become so busy “doing” their jobs that they fail to reflect upon where their career is headed. Admittedly, there may be times when you accept that your career is going to move at a more measured pace to accommodate short-term circumstances. One example of this is when a family has children in school and does not want to disrupt their education and friendships. However, to be stuck in this mode, whether intentionally or unintentionally, will limit your career development.
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