Tag: Career

Our Journeys In Career And Life – Thoughts From One


I just got back from a journey that involved crossing some of the highest motorable passes and terrains in the world. It was a tough yet breathtaking trip and some time in the wilderness led to reflections and analogies in career and life.

  • To reach a beautiful destination, we pass through tough terrains and hardships.
  • The breathtaking destination is worth the difficult journey.
  • Sometimes, our focus on the destination results in us missing the great beauty during the journey.
  • The journey is most enjoyed when we find a traveling pace that suits us the most. Others’ recommendations and experiences only serve as guideposts.
  • In order to truly enjoy our journey, we need to take appropriate breaks.
  • The journey seems long and slow when we are in the middle of one but in hindsight, it seems to have gone by fast. Be aware to enjoy, experience and cherish the beauty in those moments. In the end of our journey, we remember clearly few emotional moments.
  • When the journey seems challenging and tiring, we inevitably go through moments of difficulties and frustrations. Those moments serve as opportunities to observe, learn about, manage ourselves better and seek our inner peace.
  • In our journey, we cross paths with fellow travelers, sometimes coincidentally and sometimes planned. Some of these meetings are momentary, some involve few more moments of interactions, some may cross paths again in future journeys and some become deeper and our companions. We may never see many again. Sometimes, small crossings leave lasting impressions. Every crossing helps each other’s evolution and leaves us with experiences and learning.
  • The quality of relationship with our fellow traveler(s) is not decided by whether we go through challenging scenarios or differing view points during the journey but in the strength of the overall belief in supporting each other and the ability to bounce back from difficult moments without holding any unnecessary thoughts or feelings.
  • It is important to find our own meaning in our journey. The experience from the same journey and destination can be very different for different people.

“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you. You must travel it by yourself. It is not far. It is within reach. Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know. Perhaps it is everywhere…”
– Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (Goodreads)

 (First posted in LinkedIn on October 1, 2016)

A Different Approach To Career Management

Most people tend to think about their career progression and growth in a linear manner – i.e. work my way up the ladder and end in a senior or leadership position before retirement.

In today’s evolving and constantly changing world, one needs to think about the career topic with a different perspective. Environments change quickly, business shifts happen unexpectedly, impacts are felt globally, leaders and strategies change faster than one expects.

The concept of ‘stretch’ and growth needs to be constantly on one’s agenda. Complexity in different forms ensure learning and growth. As a result, we develop learning agility and it becomes a fundamental element of our approach and way of working. As we widen our ability to think, adapt and grow, we increase our value to any organizational setting.

Here are some fundamental questions to think about in this approach. The deeper and longer term aspects have to be addressed first.

1. What do I want to achieve with my life? What is meaningful success for me? What capabilities, support and paths do i need to build?
2. Am I continuing to grow or learn new things (in an area of importance, aligned to my longer term career objective), irrespective of the position or responsibility I hold today?
3. How long have I been doing the same work (irrespective of the job or role), without changing any element? Can I think of different approaches?
4. Key elements of role changes I would want to explore:
a. Breadth of responsibility at different levels
b. People Management – direct, indirect, matrix
c. Culture – Geography, Organization
d. Organization size, background and structure
e. Business environments – startup, fast growth, mature, major changes
f. Local & Global roles
4. Have I explored experience in different types of work approaches – eg. consulting, independent, volunteer etc.?

One can explore options with current organizations to start with or externally, through encouraging leaders and systems who facilitate the right opportunities.

At the heart of it, it may be always worthwhile to ask ourselves a Tom Peters (management guru) question: “What would you like to be written on your tombstone?”

Life is a valuable gift and it is important to think about the impact we want to create and the meaning we want to achieve through our work. After all, we spend a substantial portion of our lives at work and with colleagues.

Wish you the very best and a successful New Year 2015…

To every reader who’ve followed my posts, shared feedback and encouragement, special thanks to you and best wishes.

Posted on LinkedIn on December 25, 2014.

Changing Jobs? Notes for an effective transition

Transitions 2 Picture

Posted on LinkedIn on September 22, 2014.

We seem to be in an era of constant changes with shorter cycles of stability.

Organizations are constantly changing to respond to market needs and competition – repositioning, differentiating, streamlining, reorganizing and restructuring. In effect, there is a much higher demand on individual efforts. As a result, individuals are moving through different jobs with increasing frequency, many times with different companies. To survive and thrive in today’s hyper competitive world, the bar is constantly pushed higher.

At a personal level, it therefore becomes critical to understand the key elements for quick and effective transition across jobs and organizations, and develop the ability to learn and unlearn in shorter cycles.

Self awareness is the fundamental building block of any development process. According to Korn/Ferry, many business leaders continue to wrestle with a lack of self- awareness, a problem that can stall or even derail their careers. Armed with self-awareness, leaders can see themselves without deception or distortion. Barriers to self-awareness take two forms. Hidden strengths are the skills leaders have, but underestimate. This can cause such individuals to expend needless energy “fixing” something that isn’t broken or under-using a critical leadership skill. Blind spots, the skills that leaders overestimate, are more problematic. These are weaknesses leaders can’t see in themselves, even though they are evident to everyone around them. Distorted or inflated self-perception is a widespread problem.

Peter Drucker wrote, “Knowledge becomes obsolete incredibly fast.”

If we look across, most jobs have the following core learning components that are critical for effective delivery.

Every job involves specific and core subject matter areas. These could most effectively be acquired and applied through a combination of on-the-job experiences and learning programs. For leadership roles, it is important to recognize and plug the knowledge gaps in the team, especially when a leader does not have deep expertise in the related areas.

Every organisation has a set of processes for most functional areas. Most of the work nowadays is defined through process flows. Building a good understanding of the organisational process flows allow us to determine what we need to do and how it impacts stakeholders.

All organisations and jobs have specific tools and technologies that support work. They generally tend to follow the processes. Having a good understanding of how they work and are applied could substantially increase overall efficiency of one’s functioning.

Sometimes, basic processes or tools create the most frustration in a new environment. I’ve seen new employees frustrated with reimbursement process, time sheets or sometimes even with the difficulty in connecting to a local printer.

This is one of the most important elements. It includes both internal and external networks of our personal connections that allow us to function with a high degree of awareness and effectiveness. In many instances, the personal networks are critical for avoiding organizational ‘landmines’, converting the perception of a new ‘threat’ to ally, achieving the extra mile of success and for managing crises. In most instances, people support beyond the specified requirements of a process when there is a strong connection. These connections are also critical links to tacit knowledge that’re often unavailable in formal knowledge management systems or databases. Treating individuals with respect and empathy normally will result in valuable help and inputs on the organizational culture, especially during the tough transition phase.

This could involve our combination of the above components and gained through the application of knowledge in a variety of situations, reflection, interactions with people at different levels, environments and learning/adjusting from successes and failures (what has worked/not worked?) over time. This is very important for managers and leaders as a lot of judgment is involved in making quick decisions on topics which may not have defined answers for the specific environment.

Korn/Ferry also found that personal flexibility is the core of one’s ability to grow and improve. People with this trait not only hear and respond to feedback but actively seek it. They also pick up on clues from other people or the situation and adapt their approach as needed. Studies have repeatedly shown that the ability to learn from experience is what differentiates successful executives from unsuccessful ones. They learn faster, not because they are more intelligent, but because they have more effective learning skills and strategies.

1. Changing Jobs?, February 2010
2. The Korn/Ferry Insititute: Illuminating blind spots and hidden strengths by J. Evelyn Orr, Victoria V. Swisher, King Yii Tang, and Kenneth P. De Meuse
3. The Korn/Ferry Insititute: Using Learning Agility to Identify High Potentials around the World by K. P. De Meuse, Guangrong Dai, George S. Hallenbeck, King Yii Tang

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