In quest of career development, we've all had moments of burning desire: "If I only had THAT job, everything would be perfect." I've heard three different variations of that declaration in recent mentoring sessions.
When I'm informed of the "object of one's career desire," I typically follow up with questions: Why this job? What unique offerings and opportunities will it create in your professional journey? Why are you the irrefutable choice for such a role? Why is it best for the organization?
In one such conversation with a middle manager at a national firm based here in San Antonio, "I want to be able to help others." was the basis for his penchant to be an executive VP. A noble quest indeed. I asked if he was able to help people in his current role. "Of course"! He hesitated, and then added, "I guess I've never looked at it that way."
The point of my inquiries is NOT to dissuade people from specific career goals or work opportunities: It's to offer a different perspective which, I believe, serves all of us in better and bigger ways over the long run.
I refer to it as the astronomy lesson.
For the sake of explanation, regard the job aspirant as an individual standing on planet earth, with hopes of going to the moon (e.g. the executive suite, or some other lofty role). Ambitious goals are commendable when they're rooted in reality and grounded in logic. Often times, the likelihood of short term or immediate success, along with the attendant risk in sticking with a singular pursuit, may bring unanticipated consequences and downsides.
Instead of focusing on the moon, consider first focusing on yourself - in an endless, non-negotiable and deliberate manner - for the duration of your career (and life). More specifically, regard "you” as a metaphor for your continuing self-development. This approach ensures that your focus and efforts remain fixed on the one individual in the world (as my wife reminds me) that you have "some control" over.
An ever evolving focus on your own growth and evolution will prepare you in ways that focusing on "a job" never will. Properly executed, this approach readies you for the inevitable variety of opportunities that will cross your work, family, personal and community "paths" over a lifetime. Vigilant, disciplined preparation is the key to your success.
Rather than having a fixed gaze on a single target, you will have created an EXPANDING UNIVERSE of opportunities. In an ever changing world, which plan serves you best?
Discovering your highest and greatest use requires curiosity, energy, feedback and a willingness to change course when you're required to do so. Those traits, along with adaptability and a positive attitude can be developed and refined with the right focus, effort and lots of repetition.
Plan your mission. The clock is ticking....