I’ll never forget sitting on the grass at a university campus (the Quad – the two uni’s that I’ve been to have them) reading Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. After all, I was going to be highly effective, very successful and fabulously wealthy 🙂 Ah, nothing like being a freshman!
Anyway, there were a few sentences that hit me hard that day on the Quad, and I’ve remembered them all this time (more than 10 years ago):
Your economic security does not lie in your job; it lies in your own power to produce – to think, to learn, to create, to adapt. That’s true financial independence. It’s not having wealth; it’s having the power to produce wealth. It’s intrinsic.
Steven R. Covey, first 7 Habits book, Page 304 (1st paragraph)
Back then I knew that I needed to finish my degree and be aggressive in my career. And I was right… kind of. I did need to do those things, but they wouldn’t bring me economic security. Here are the “right things” that I did that I thought would provide me economic security forever:
- I got a degree in CIS – it was the hottest business degree at the time (and I didn’t have the brain to be an accountant!)
- I got my MBA – the only time I almost got a 4.0 (my mistake was that I “made my path public” and told a professor that my goal was to get a 4.0 – he is the one that didn’t give me an A!!)
- I had great job titles – from programmer to IT Manager to CIO to VP to General Manager (I should have been president but the board thought I was too young – they wanted me to have more “gray hair”)
- I had quantifiable results – if you look at my resume you’ll see the “increased revenue by 500%” type stuff.
I thought I had it all! And then when I got laid off I found out that those things were just … well, things. They were important, don’t get me wrong, but I put my job security in those things. I don’t regret it at all, and am proud of my accomplishments 🙂 But after this last 10 months, from when I got laid off, I have a new list of things that I think are uber-critical. These are things that go along with Covey’s “think, learn, create, adapt”:
- Think about the employment cycle – you will change jobs frequently! I’ve seen some resumes where they change each year or 18 months, and “the stats” say you’ll change every 3 – 5 years. Don’t let this concept be a pink elephant that no one talks about! Accept it, and begin to figure out what you will do during the job search times!
- Learn the proper principles of career management, job search, networking, etc. You should be an expert in whatever you do… you should also be an expert in navigating your career!
- Create a personal brand, and a strong… a REAL network! You can do what I did and spend 110% on your job and neglect your career. But all that meant for me was months of unemployment trying to figure out where I went wrong. If I would have spent time on a personal brand and a network I guarantee my time of unemployment would have been significantly lower. Of course, then I wouldn’t have created JibberJobber, so its good that I couldn’t get a job, right? 😉
- Adapt to the new career – that is, multiple jobs, frequent layoffs (downsizing, rightsizing, etc.). I used to think that anyone that couldn’t get a job quickly was a loser! They should have gotten a better degree, or they should work harder in the job search etc. I had to do a major paradigm shift when months passed and I couldn’t even get an interview! I came to realize that I wasn’t a loser but that I just hadn’t adapted to reality! I was still on the “have a great job for life and get a pension” plan, and had not even began to accept today’s reality and adapt to it.
Food for thought. There is much more, but these are some basics 🙂 Where do you stand on this?