Corporate America is experiencing more change than it has in many years.
Most companies have awakened to the need to embrace technology, the reality that they lack diversity, and the need for mental health initiatives while navigating the pandemic and leading from afar.
Those who still did not believe they could trust people to work remotely were given a new dose of reality and proven wrong. As a result, the expectations of leadership and careers are evolving.
So will you follow the career path of those that went before you? The one that got your boss and your boss' boss to their station in life. Will you wait in line for your turn, or may I propose a different option?
Our career path was laid out before us for years, making life easy yet frustrating at times. Instead of focusing on moving up the ladder, focus on the journey.
So how do you differentiate a career path from a journey?
The path is straightforward. The journey is full of exploration.
First, find good travel partners.
The leaders your work for are an essential part of your journey. They must have organizational influence, or you will find it difficult to move past your current location. They must advocate for you, help you build skills, and have tough conversations with you that come from a place of support and help you grow. During any interview process, your job is to vet out your future leader's abilities to lead.
Know when it is important to go solo.
You will work for great leaders and not-so-great leaders. It is okay to follow them, but you benefit from a variety of leaders throughout your career. Working for multiple leaders helps build different skills, gain perspective, and develop your leadership style. Spending your entire career with one leader may help you get ahead, but it can also hinder your development.
Travel to unknown destinations.
Don't be afraid to move laterally (or backward). Traveling to a destination your peers have not experienced will give you unique experiences and skills. In the long run, it makes you different and may set you apart when interviewing for the next job or promotion. Plus, it makes you more interesting, as a candidate and a person.
Be open to unexpected invitations.
When other leaders see your skills, explore their opportunities. You may discover new passions or capabilities you never expected.
Don't let fear stop you.
Do difficult things. It shows that you are adaptable, resourceful, and intelligent. It builds new skills and strengthens your leadership presence and personal brand. Seek out leaders and opportunities as much as company reputation.
Know when to stay a while.
Enjoy the experience if you are happy, learning, contributing, and feeling complete. It is not always about what lies beyond the horizon. Being present in the moment is also an important skill to build.
Know when you need a change of scenery.
Don't wear out your welcome. When you don't want to be there, can't contribute, or feel unwelcome - leave. Start your search and leave while your colleagues will still miss you. Otherwise, your unhappiness will start to show up at work and affect your job or relationships.
Travel outside of your comfort zone.
Ask yourself the tough questions and listen to your heart. Trying new roles or jobs shows versatility, that you are not afraid to step into unfamiliar situations and can be successful in a variety of settings.
Don't forget where you have been.
Never burn a bridge. Stay in touch with those you have left behind. You never know where you may meet again. Most importantly, nurture your network.
Enjoy the journey.
Set boundaries. Jobs are like relationships - you have your ups and downs. You can't run every time it gets complicated. Look for opportunities in difficult situations. Many of those difficult moments provide you with great opportunities. However, there is a difference between complex and unhealthy. You have to do what is best for you. This is your journey. You deserve happiness!
Begin your journey with goals but without expectations.
I can't wait to see your final destination!
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