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Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Transform Yourself

Make changes as you journey through your career and discover new things

On our sailboat passage from Canada to Australia, my wife and I got stuck in the doldrums, about 1,600km from land.
Just as sailors must sail through the doldrums if they want to realise their ambitions of sailing to far away places, we too must make difficult transitions in our careers. If we are to move from junior to senior, from ordinary to extraordinary, there are at least four major transformations to navigate:

  • Being reactive to being proactive;
  • Fulfilling a role to contributing your gifts;
  • Serving your workplace to aligning your work context to your career goals;
  • Continuous learning to teaching others.
Each transformation requires not that we do different things, or that we do things differently, but that we become fundamentally changed, that we be transformed.
But like passing through the doldrums, when we are in the process of transforming, we feel stressed, uncertain and confused.
How then do we navigate through the transitions of our career?
Begin now to cultivate within yourself each of the 5Cs. This is where you will find the strength and wisdom to navigate the trials of career transition.

Pick a Course
More than anything, to cross the uncertainty of transitions, you must have a destination in mind. That way, when you are becalmed in transition, you will have a course to set your sails by as you work each breeze to inch your way forward.
It does not matter that your greater destination will change as your career proceeds, it only matters that you have a course to set your compass by.
In particular, set goals that define how you will be proactive, decide what gifts you want to contribute through your work, what work context will support your career goals and how you will help others learn.

Build Courage
To be extraordinary, you must practise taking risks - this is how you will build the courage to be extraordinary.
You must practise standing out and being proactive. You must also practise stepping out of your role and your comfort zone and declaring your unique contribution.
You must risk insisting that your work aligns with your gifts. You must risk allowing those you are teaching to make mistakes on your watch so that they can learn.
Does it help knowing there is no way other than by risking? Probably not, so you might as well get started.

Build Capacity
Do this every day, in every way.
"Work only" is never sustainable by itself - you must have the strength of a full and balanced life to sustain you.
Being "extraordinary" means bringing who you really are into play at work, and that is how it feels when you are extraordinarily successful - like play!
A life of integrated play and work is your platform for excellence.

Be deeply Committed
If you are to make your work an expression of your gifts, you will have to make difficult choices, big commitments. This requires you to stand by your choices, at first for yourself, and later as a leader for your colleagues.
You build your capacity for commitment by learning two things: how to say "no", ironically, and by learning to take responsibility for everything over which you have the slightest choice.
Learn how to "decide", that is, learn how to kill off the alternatives until you are committed from the very core of your being. This unleashes the power to be extraordinary.

Be Compassionate
Compassion is love for yourself and then love for others.
Show me a workplace that works and I will show you a workplace where people care about themselves and one another.
I will show you a workplace where trust is the basis for relationship, not power of fear, and where people are committed to their own and everyone's success.
Call me old-fashioned, but that looks like compassion to me. To build compassion, learn to love yourself first by discovering how to accept who you really are - the good, the bad and the ugly. It is a process that is surprisingly fun and powerful.
Seem like a lot of work? The next 5Cs, like your career, are not so much a destination as a journey.
Begin today in the spirit of learning and discovery.

The Straits Times, CATS Recruit - Fri, June 22, 2007
by Cresswell Walker,]

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