Career Strategy Demystified to One Page

Life is too precious not to be thoughtful and deliberate about how you allocate your time, talent and treasure. Managing a career can be a complicated topic with many aspects to coordinate and consider. The path we choose and the decisions we make each day have a significant influence on our health, happiness and prosperity.

Surprisingly, how to approach career strategy effectively is rarely taught in schools at any level. Organizations are not in the best position to offer a comprehensive curriculum given that career strategy starts with understanding who you are at a deeply, personal level. The topic we all struggle with had to be demystified.

In 2008, I authored a framework of seven connected strategies to give professionals a process for answering critical questions and shaping their mindset. I continue to evolve it as I learn new ideas and experiences in a new phase of my life.

Download the Career Strategy Framework one-pager for a seven step roadmap.

Even in the light of daily chaos and uncertainty that surrounds our life, there is a sense of calmness and confidence when you have a deliberate and strategic career direction. Start the journey to reach your full potential – we only get one shot.

How do you feel about your answers to the seven questions?

Innovate Yourself for Success

brainy smurf

The world around us is changing each day and our relevance is at risk unless we change with it.   Success over the lifetime of your career depends on your ability to detect the subtle dynamics that shape business.  Mega trends have the potential to make you irrelevant or less valuable.  The key to remaining successful in your personal life and career is innovation.

Personal innovation is the ability to learn, adapt and strengthen existing or grow completely new competencies.  Dynamically reconfiguring these competencies given the challenge at hand will decide who succeeds and who does not.  Globalization due to the rapidly change technology environment has the ability to instantly source talent and ideas from all parts of the world.  Your knowledge is the product others want so investing in and innovating your product is what is needed each day.  My daily reminder is the “Brainy Smurf” that my kids bought me a few years back that sits on my desk.   As I prepare for each day, it is an opportunity to think about what I will learn today.  It is a mindset for every meeting or discussion I have.

Here are a few simple ideas to help you incorporate learning and innovation into your work week:

  1. Take a timeout to understand where you are. Most of us operate in the “daily machine” with email overload and extensive demands on our time.  Take a day off specifically to take stock in where you are in your life and career.  It is when we get out of our daily routine that we have an opportunity to evaluate our success and how we must innovate to get back on track.
  2. Plan learning activities in your calendar.  New learning will likely not happen unless you plan time in your busy schedule.  It may be a book you have been wanting to read, attending a conference to learn cutting edge technology or advice from a mentor.  I use a color-coded category in Outlook to tag my learning activities.
  3. Evaluate the external environment and strategic forces that shape your domain.  Your ability to stay relevant is based on offering a service where there is an opportunity, an unmet need and a combination of competencies that make your offering something darn right special.  Business and people typically become irrelevant or less valuable when that don’t understand and adapt to those changing dynamics.  I liken it to conducting a Michael Porter Five Forces (see Wikipedia) analysis of your current role and line of work.  Are you a thought leader in your field?  If not, understand what makes people a thought leader and then you have two options:  get out of the market or execute a robust development plan to close those gaps.
  4. Integrate learning into everything you do.  Optimize your time to activities that support your personal innovation process and decline meetings when you are not required.  Reconfigure that valuable time to learning.
  5. Offer to teach others something new.   We tend to learn more when we need to explain new concepts and theories to others.  Offer to teach something new you are learning to others who are interested in the same topic too!

Learning about our inner self is just as important as innovating our professional competencies.  We change over time and what worked in the past may not anymore.   That includes those relationship that our critical to our success.  Get energized this week by taking time a timeout to decide where and how you will innovate yourself for success!

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