I had always been on the side of the debate that says a career can be both meaningful and prosperous. We don’t have to settle for EITHER meaningful OR prosperous.
But for the longest time, I could not clearly articulate my philosophy on career. Then suddenly one day, in what I call my “middle-of-the-night sparks of inspiration”, I woke up and drew (if you can call my skills “drawing” :D) this easy model to explain how I view the career building process.
And when I use the word “career” it is not restricted to mean “employment”. It also includes doing your own business.
I started thinking about my career seriously since 2013 when I lost my beloved aunt suddenly, in a freak incident that nobody saw coming.
During my visit to India to see the family soon after her death, I met so many people who came by her house to convey their condolences. Many of them, we didn’t even know.
As I heard their stories about her, I realized that she had touched many hearts in the ways we weren’t even aware she was doing.
And THAT was the turning point for me in how I thought about my career and life. My aunt had inspired me even in her death. Seeing the legacy she had left, made me question, “What’s the best way I can help others so that I, too, can make an impact before I die?”
The terrible grief of losing her, and the fear of sudden death had been replaced by an inspiring sense of urgency to make a difference while I am alive.
The quest to answer this one question has led me to what I am sharing with you today. It’s my model of career development.
The 4 circles are the 4 components of career development. I have observed that when you follow this path you will not only build a career that is prosperous but also meaningful.
Now let’s see each of these 4 components in a little bit detail.
We are born with some natural gifts – the talents that make us predisposed to learn certain activities better and faster than others. I strongly believe that we all have such talents. This is what comes to us so naturally and effortlessly that we may not even notice these as “talents”.
We go through life, and live through a variety of experiences. They shape our perspectives and emotions. That defines our attitude towards life. This also shapes how we view our career and it’s role in our life, how we define success, and which skills we decide to focus on for our vocation and life development.
At different stages in life, we choose to intentionally put effort into learning new skills – whether it is through formal education, training, volunteering or just learning on our own.
Based on how our attitude guides us, a subset of these skills may align with our natural strengths and talents. If that happens, we learn these skills faster, enjoy the process more, and feel that we have found what we are born to do.
It’s all great until now.
Then comes the fourth and final component of our career development which is directly related to how many opportunities we will attract and how easily.
4. Presentation to the World
The components 1, 2 and 3 are all internal. Those make you who you are. But this last component is a set of skills that you use to “Communicate YOU”. How do you tell the rest of the world who you are, what you do well, what you aspire to do, and how you can help others by doing it?
You probably have heard of that Chinese proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child”. In this context, it can be tweaked to “It takes a village to build a successful career”.
You cannot live in isolation if you want to build a successful career. You need the time-appropriate presentation and communication skills so that the world gets to know “you”, and reach out to you when they need help from somebody like you. This is how you attract opportunities and grab them when they present themselves.
While these skills change from time to time, currently, the way to present yourself is through a resume, LinkedIn profile, interviews, networking and inter-personal communication.
You must have noticed in the diagram that these 4 components form a cycle. That’s because the process is continuous. The cycle of learning, discovery, presentation, and new, better opportunities never stops. You just keep developing your niche – the unique way you can add value through your vocation. The moment the learning stops, we become stagnant.
How Do I Know If I Am on a Wrong Path
The problem is, if your career isn’t going in a desired direction, what you observe are the symptoms without knowing the exact steps you need to take to fix them.
Here are some common symptoms I have seen:
- You may be afraid, “If I lose this job I don’t know how and when I will find another one”.
- You may see that you are not making the progress you had hoped for. The fear of dying without making any impact in this world is keeping you awake.
- You may feel stuck in a dead-end job because all your hard work in applying for other jobs is not paying off.
- You hate networking because you are not sure what to say, and how to initiate a conversation.
- Even when an opportunity presents itself, you cannot seal the deal. You lack the confidence or comfort needed to communicate why they should hire you or do business with you.
All of these are signs that you are lacking in one of these components – in many cases, more than 1 component.
Many people identify with not having the clarity on the first component – what am I born to do? Many others feel overwhelmed when making a choice of which skills they should to develop as everything seems to be necessary.
But do you know what the silent killers are in my opinion? They are the attitude and presentation skills.
Not many people are aware of how their attitude is holding them back from rising higher. And they most certainly aren’t aware of how they come across when talking to others or in their online persona.
That’s why I choose to blog about the attitude, and teach the skills of presenting + communicating YOU. As of today, that’s the best way I can help others.
And you know what hurts me the most? When I see bright and talented minds getting stuck in the presentation part.
They are so capable of making a difference in this world but they are not valued as much as they should be because they cannot communicate what they have to offer to others. As a result, they cannot build a network of supporters that will help them get to where they want to be.
Think about it, if you don’t want to put in the work to explain your strengths, why should others be bothered to do the work for you?
Attitude on the other hand has nothing to do with others. This is still completely in your control. It is the most important component in your discovery of the self.
Without the right attitude, you will not be able to go on the quest to find out your natural talents, you wouldn’t be able to decide which skills you want to develop, and that lack of self-awareness is going to hold you back from reaching your full potential.
You don’t even know you have a problem unless you go on a quest to learn everything that is out there. When you come across it, you suddenly start seeing the issue. Of course, it takes even more will power and discipline to change your attitude but now you are at least aware of other perspectives.
This blog mainly focuses on the attitude component of career development because I want you to be aware of other possibilities. I hope you take action on it, sure. But awareness is the first step and it is quite enlightening.
When you build on this 4 component model of career development, you will design a career that fits your aspirations in life.
It will be prosperous because people will flock to you with selective opportunities because they are convinced your unique set of skills is what’s needed in that situation.
It will be meaningful to you because you will make an impact in the world around you. There is no greater satisfaction than knowing you are making this world a better place just by being YOU.
You will be confident that you are in control of your career, life, and your future.
I know this first hand. (If you want to know about how I evolved into doing what I do today, you can read about it here.) Surprise, surprise, I WAS following this model without knowing that I am doing so.
In order to have a successful career you should start asking yourself, “What’s the best way for me to help others?” The quest to answering this question will take you on a journey towards clarity and confidence.
You will discover your natural gifts, build up on those by developing specific skills, and learn the necessary techniques to express your ideas and expertise to the world so that you can reach more people who will benefit from what you have to offer. The further you go on this journey, more in control of your career you will be.
What do you think?
What do you think of this model? Have you seen glimpses of it in your career or have you seen it in action in the lives of those whom you admire? Share in the comments below. I would love to hear your thoughts.