In the article "Career Plans Are Dangerous," the Harvard Business Review tackles the old idea that we can plan our careers in a linear fashion. You go to school to study architecture, you become an architect, you work as an architect, become partner, and retire. Has this happened to anyone you know? Probably. But the percentage of people who experience this career path is small.
When I was 17, I went to college with no idea of what I wanted to do as a working adult. When I retired from college (read: no graduation), I really stared my education. I moved from banking to retail brand development to printing to e-commerce to other pursuits. Experience showed my what was possible and what worked for me.
Inc. Magazine has profiled four college-age entrepreneurs who elected to take $100,000 in angel funding instead of going to school. There's a debate raging about the education system and if it prepares students for the past or for the unknown jobs of the future.
This conversation is not limited to teenagers. It directly involves you. How are you acquiring new skills? How are you educating yourself to become a better leader? Whatever you're doing, it might not be enough.
The world changes. The first iPad was put into the hands of a customer on April 3, 2010. The third version was unveiled 23 months later. This has changed business services, website access, design approaches, consumer electronics, and expectations worldwide. If you are living like life is the same as it was 2 years ago - or like you just graduated college - you are behind, my friend.
Take yourself out for an hour. Think about what you want to accomplish next. Dive deeply into your thoughts and figure out if you have the skills and connections to make it happen. If yes, sketch a plan to make it happen. If not, hit the books and hit the streets. You may not be able to predict the next five years, but you can change your course in five days.
Here's the most important sentence of this article: "And when you are fully present, it inspires others."
Josh Ehrlich lists the actions that will help you develop a commanding presence: focus, body language, calmness. These are things that you develop, not to dominate a room, but to put other people at ease, develop an instant level of trust, and inspire them to connect with you.
You know someone who has presence. I call it "ease and grace." Within seconds, we want to follow these leaders or do business with them. While you might want that for yourself, presence is truly a gift for others.
Change can confront us in unexpected ways, but it also affords us opportunities to move forward. Our attitude makes all the difference. Does change batter you or inspire you to adjust?
One of my personal crusades is to help people move away from the word "sustainable." Sustainability is a myth. It assumes that we can maintain situations and hold on to stability. False. Nothing ever stays the same. I'm personally interested in adaptability. People who can manage in the face of change are the ones who survive. Basic Darwin.
In the Harvard Business Review, author John Coleman supplies us with tools to change and grow. His article, To Grow, Leave What You Know Behind, is a short but powerful read that should spark a few ideas for you and support your growth.
My partner recently had a problem with a group she manages. Not just any problem, but a communication issue... the worst kind. The group instituted some changes to get people more involved, but the message wasn't getting through to some people, notably to the ones most affected. She had posted multiple messages to the group's Facebook page, message board, and handouts at events. Still, problems.
I told her that, in my experience, there is no substitute for a conversation, either on the phone or in person. If you want real results, you have to talk to people. And look! The Harvard Business Review published an article backing me up. Anthony Tjan wrote, "we have to recognize when such digital channels (email, FB, Tw) cannot substitute for a live conversation."
The experts agree, sort of. Depending on who you believe, between 60-93% of communication is nonverbal behavior. Actions are more important than words. As I write this, our CEO is interviewing a potential sales person, there's a Madonna song playing in the background, I'm thinking about this article, and trying to ignore incoming email notification. Writing an email slices your effectiveness even more.
Come to think of it, maybe I should have recorded a video instead of writing this...