Career Strategy and Resilience

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“The pursuit of money at its best can mitigate the frustration in your career… Yet the siren song of riches has confused and confounded some of the best of our society.”      – Clayton Christensen (@claychristensen Harvard Business Professor, in How Will You Measure Your Life)

Clayton Christensen argues that in order to find true career satisfaction, we have to look for work that motivates us rather than work that only fulfills hygiene standards. Motivation factors include: challenging work, recognition, responsibility, and personal growth. Hygiene factors include: status, compensation, job security, work conditions, and supervision. “Bad hygiene causes career dissatisfaction”. However, meaningful work makes the difference between dreading going to your job or being excited about work. Therefore, we should find work that maximizes motivation factors and fulfills the hygiene factors.

Finding a field that does so, does not come about by sitting in our ivory towers but through a combination of deliberate and unanticipated opportunities. Clayton Christensen writes that we should get out there and try new stuff until we learn where our talents, interests, and priorities pay off. Once we find out what works for us, “it is time to flip from an emergent strategy to a deliberate strategy.”

Ask yourself: what assumptions have to be proven true for you to be happy in the choice you are contemplating? What evidence do you have? How can you swiftly and inexpensively test it?

You do NOT want to feel like a company has taken your time and talents in the prime of your life. Be prepared to experiment and pivot in order to adjust your strategy until you find what satisfies your hygiene factors and gives you motivation.

Be patient! Clayton Christensen remarks that if you study the root causes of business disasters over time, you will find a “pre-disposition towards immediate gratification over endeavours that result in long-term success.”

Facing difficult challenges and sometimes failing builds resilience. Those that hit their first significant career roadblock later in life often fall apart.

Martin Short writes in I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend that “when you’re met with fire early, you develop a certain Teflon quality.” After his wife passed away, he told his son: “tough experiences Teflon-coat you and strengthen you against further adversity…[keeps] your setbacks in perspective.”

Martin Short exemplifies Clayton Christensen’s wisdom about trying new endeavours. Martin Short writes in his book that he made a one-year contract with himself to try the “struggling-actor thing” for a year. Eugene Levy encouraged him: “[i]f it doesn’t work out, you’ll still be able to look in the mirror at fifty with no regrets.”

I think it is safe to say that Martin Short signed the right contract.

 

 

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