Lori Bamber interviewed me and colleague Erna Hagge for a Globe and Mail feature on career resilience. Here is an excerpt:
In today’s environment, career resilience is an essential attribute for success, even for survival. “If you identify with your job or career, you’re in trouble, because that changes,” says Ms. Naiman. “But if you know who you are and can take a stand for what you believe in – your values – you have a ‘north star’ to guide you.” If you don’t know what you believe in and what you’re good at, what your natural strengths, gifts and talents are, it’s time to ask people for feedback, she says.
With that self-knowledge, you can link your strengths to needs in the world and create a vision for your life. “Artists, leaders and entrepreneurs tend to have something in common: a guiding vision and potent point of view. When you have a guiding vision, it is much easier to make choices and decisions about where to channel your time and energy, by asking yourself, ‘Will this opportunity help me achieve my aspirations?’”
Four Career Resilience Strategies
1. Creative Thinking: The ability to see a situation from different perspectives, and to focus on the desired outcome, not on the problem. Whatever we focus on we amplify. If you are in a rut, seek out different points of view from trusted sources, and examine your options.
2. Fostering strong social networks. Close friendships, having conversations that matter, and breaking bread together are vital to our health and well being. The story of the Pennsylvanian Rosetans in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers is a wonderful example.
3. Remember you always have power. I recently spoke at the HCLABC Healthcare Leaders Conference in Vancouver BC. As you probably know, the health care industry in Canada is fraught with challenges, and I was told in pre-conference interviews, many people feel disempowered. A message I wanted to convey to my audience is, no matter what the circumstances, and no matter where we are in the hierarchy, as leaders, we always have power to choose our attitude, to set the tone at meetings we conduct, and to treat others well.
4. Make yourself invaluable. Working longer and harder isn’t working the way it used to. Thanks to technology, cheap outsourced labor, and increasing numbers of new graduates, there is always someone who will do our job faster, quicker, and cheaper. Lynda Gratton, a professor at London Business School and author of Glow, says to be invaluable, you have to work with more energy, more enthusiasm, and most important of all, more innovation. You need to glow. She says people who glow have mastered three distinct areas of their life:
- A co-operative mindset. They have built deeply trusting and cooperative relationships with others. Consult people outside your normal networks and with totally different mindsets.
- Jumping across worlds. They have extended their networks beyond the obvious to encompass the unusual. When you extend your network, you will come across people whose experiences and views differ significantly from your own. The further you “jump across worlds” to communicate with people from vastly different profiles, the fresher your perceptions will be.
- Igniting latent energy. They are on an inner quest that ignites their own energy and that of others. Ask questions that spark energy, to engross and interest others as well as your own curiosity. Create visions that compel. These are visions of the future that you and your colleagues can buy into, that encourage others to imagine the future and to become excited about being involved in that future. Craft meaningful and exciting work.
Gratton says, “My research has shown that the majority of people spend less than 20 per cent of their working lives feeling energised, engaged, and innovative. To stay ahead of the curve, you have to work with more energy, enthusiasm and innovation than everyone else. Create a cooperative environment within your organisation and you will radiate energy, innovation and success and ‘you will Glow’ ”
I’m not sure if I glow, but Lynda Gratton’s principles really speak to the way I live and work. Building networks, cooperating and collaborating with others, exploring other disciplines, and designing the future.
I provide executives, innovators and entrepreneurs, with the support they need to develop creative resilience and thrive in change.
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Copyright 2009 Creativity at Work