Bruce Dickinson has an interesting CV. He is probably best known as the lead singer of Iron Maiden. Later in his career he became a commercial airline pilot. Bruce’s career is full of achievement to the outside observer but Bruce Dickinson’s career is also highly successful from a modern career management perspective and that is why it is interesting to us here.
No-one else created a career path for Bruce Dickinson. It is unlikely that Bruce’s parents (careers teachers or any other advisors/mentors) mapped him out a dual career in music and piloting commercial jets.
Little Bruce (and Bigger Bruce as he got older) wasn’t following anyone else's notion of success as he made important decisions throughout his career.
'Heavy-metal-rock-star-to-commercial-airline-pilot' is the change in Bruce’s career that is most interesting and revealing to any of us making career decisions of our own.
If he wanted to make changes, Bruce (older, wiser and richer) could have done almost anything he wanted for the rest of his career. But with almost unlimited choice in front of him, Bruce chose to train as a commercial airline pilot. He chose this long, expensive, rigourous and technically demanding path because it was the change in career direction that best described personal success for him. For Bruce, no other career had the same potential for reward, fulfilment and satisfaction.
Bruce Dickinson’s example may seem an odd choice for a career case study. Isn’t it all too easy for millionaires to change careers on a whim? Regardless of risk or cost or time?
This may be true but Bruce’s career is relevant because you do not need money to follow his example and use your own choices to define career success more personally.
We could speculate about what was behind the decisions Bruce made but it is probably more productive for each of us to learn from his example and try to define personal career success through the choices we make. At important moments our individual values, talents and goals [often mentioned previously on this blog] can guide us along the way.
For the record, I am not an Iron Maiden fan, nor am I connected to the airline industry but - after learning about his example recently - I am a fan of Bruce Dickinson’s career decision-making and his shining example of defining personal success.
My hope is that Bruce's example is one that translates well to the career choices you might be facing now or may face at some time in the future. As always, I will only find out if you let me know what you think via email or comment!