Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Why we work

Successful people have a relationship with work that helps them in a number of ways. All of them positive.

It can be different for each person but success in your relationship with work can be found in elements like: the challenges of your job; the friendships within your team; opportunities to learn & develop; the feeling you are making a difference or the feeling of personal achievement.

Whatever the individual mix might be, successful people have a relationship with work that moves them and moves them forward.

[Is it still a temple if no one worships at it?]

But success isn't just about the good times rolling in. There are times when excitement, energy & inspiration can be obscured by doubt, tiredness or fear. These are the times when our relationship with work reminds us that we work for a reason.

Reminding us why we work during difficult times, our individual reasons give us what we need. For example: the resolve to dig deeper; the determination to keep going; the insight to make changes; the courage to face adversity and overcome major obstacles.

Understanding your relationship with work is critical to career success in a number of ways. All of them positive.

For more about understanding your individual relationship with work follow these links:

All the best!


Monday, 23 February 2009

Career choice

The choices you make have a greater influence on your career than anything else. In other words, choice is the single most important factor in individual career success.

[Career choice won't get you everything but it can get you more than started!]

Last night was Oscar night and plenty of journalists & bloggers know that writing about the Oscars (and filling your article with all the names of the big winners & losers) can win plenty of new readers. Despite the risk of being labelled a shameless bandwagon jumper, I had to include one very small sentence that brings home the power and influence our choices can wield.

In his Oscar acceptance speech, A.R. Rahman said, "All my life I've had a choice of hate or love. I've always chosen love and I'm here." (Here is the link to his speech in full:,0,6012367.photogallery?index=26).

This very short, simple sentence hides the huge effort (hours of learning, dedication, sacrifice, overcoming hardship, fine tuning expertise, etc.) behind his career to date. It also obscures the number and the complexity of choices and decisions that shape a career and get it to something like the very pinnacle of success (i.e. last night's awards).

What this sentence does not hide however is the importance of choice. Every time a choice is presented, we can choose how to go forward.

Mr Rahman will have no doubt chosen to study, he will have chosen to dedicate himself to his art, he will have chosen to stay the course even when the outlook was uncertain and he will have chosen against short-term gains where there was harm in the longer-term.

Career choice is never as simple as love vs. hate but it is made a great deal simpler when we know that we do have a choice and that our choices - large or small - are inescapably linked to our overall success.

Read more about the importance of choice in your career & personal success:

All the best for now!


Thursday, 19 February 2009

Calling a breakthrough!

There are always moments in any difficult, long or complicated task where you see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Career Management demands that a hugely complicated set of priorities are dealt with and there are low & difficult moments for many people. So when our greater objectives come into view - especially for the first time - it is worth pausing to recognise the breakthrough this represents.

[The sun sets on another average photograph]

I'm not in the habit of quoting him but Winston Churchill summed up a breakthrough perfectly when he said, "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

[For anyone who thinks that WWII & breakthrough moments in individual careers aren't an appropriate mix, here is something with a little less gravity but no less uplift. Amelia Earhardt said, "when all looked sour beyond words, some delightful 'break' was apt to lurk just around the corner."]

Whether it is learning something new from your job search & career research; having something confirmed to you by someone whose judgement you trust; or just a little good fortune that comes to you after weeks or months of making calls, attending meetings & networking: recognise & celebrate these breakthroughs when they happen. Think of them as reward for all of the hard work and effort that you have invested into managing your career and appreciate the part they will now always play in your future success.

This post is for everyone working hard for a breakthrough right now and all those who have recently made great progress!

All the best,


Here are some related links to this post:

Monday, 16 February 2009

Some information about...You!

Since the first post on this blog, you (dear reader) have accessed this blog from 54 different countries:

409 different towns/cities:

Using 8 different Internet browsers, 6 different operating systems and speaking at least 20 different languages (averaging 5 minutes per visit too!).

[OK, so I didn't have a picture for that last stat!]

Why the stats? Because for all the differences they highlight, they also prove what we have in common: a career and the need to understand our relationship with work at a personal, individual level.

Thanks for reading wherever you are!

All the best,


Friday, 13 February 2009

Who are the partners in your career?

Career articles sometimes have questions for titles but how many ask us for an individual answer?

I won't pretend to be completely blameless on the annoying rhetorical question front but this is one question that can only be considered independently. Yes, a career is something we all have in common but we are all individuals. There are times when only thinking for ourselves will do.

Here is one question that can only be answered by you: Who are the partners in your career?

[Look closer and you might see something you missed!]

Last year I wrote about the people who have a long-term interest in your career. That article highlighted the difference between the people showing an interest in your career today and the smaller group of people who are with you for the long haul. This article is really about clarifying that small group of interested people and considering partnership from the perspective of our careers.

Partnership goes further than interest because it is more active and involved. Our career partners are the people who help our careers to develop; the people who offer us the benefit of their experience; the people who volunteer an opinion as we deal with difficult questions; the people who challenge our beliefs and intentions to help us succeed.

Successful careers always have partners and they create partnership opportunities for others too. The most important partners in our careers can be people we already know as well as people we are yet to meet. Realising who our partners are, how they have helped us so far and how the benefits of partnership can be extended in the future, is all the incentive we need to answer this question for ourselves.

Here are a few partnership & 'independent career thought' related links:

Have a great weekend wherever you are!

All the best,


Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Failure & Success: Inseparable Career Twins

"I've failed over and over and over again in my life
 and that is why I succeed." Michael Jordan

[Related Geek Stat: Michael Jordan's biography on the NBA website states, "By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time."]

Maybe it is easy for the greatest basketball player of all time to talk about failure as he looks back on a career full of achievement but I'm not so sure. I am inclined to believe that there is genuine honesty and bravery in these carefully chosen words. They are meant to inspire.

[Sometimes the scenery is so good you can't fail!]

Our careers are unlikely to be scrutinised as publicly as those of our sports stars. Maybe that makes it easier for us to face failure because we can do it privately first?

Being the greatest in any discipline is an uncommon experience but turning failure into success can be done by us all.

For more about failure & success read:

Failure: The Secret to Success (thanks to Guy Kawasaki)

All the best!


Monday, 9 February 2009

James's story - Talking Careers with your Boss

“It was a risk but I decided to talk with my boss about where my career was going.”

James tells the story of his most recent career move that began - maybe a little unconventionally - with an approach to his boss this time last year.

“We had a really open conversation and agreed that I could look at career opportunities outside the company while exploring internal possibilities at the same time. As you can imagine, there was to be no effect on my performance in the meantime [cheeky smile].”

James continues, “I did the usual rounds of meetings and chats with recruiters and a few opportunities started to come my way. One conversation [with a potential employer] continued over several months. There were plenty of interviews and meetings but - in the end - this was the conversation that turned into my new job!”

[Sometimes you just have to let talent speak for itself]

So far so good for James but how was he helped by having the career conversation up front with his employer first?

James answers, “It’s funny because there is no way I would have got this job if my boss and I had not made our agreement in the first place. I could never have kept such a long process hidden from view. Something would have given under the strain.”

To sum up James says, “I moved my career on with support from my employer and it helped them too because I could stick around to hire and train my replacement. I can now look forward with absolutely no hang-ups about the past and nothing but goodwill behind me. Yes, it did feel like I was taking a risk approaching my boss at the outset but now, I am really glad that I did!”

***Career Health Warning***

James approached his boss about his career future and both sides did benefit from this progressive approach. Talking to your boss in this way is only something you should do if you are absolutely prepared for every eventuality [including the potential for your boss to take offence and dismiss you on the spot!].

A situation like this should be handled with extreme care and any action you take should be based on the history & health of your relationship with your employer [ahead of any external or 'expert' recommendation]. If you are in any way unsure, explore your doubts before doing anything that can not be undone!

***End of Career Health Warning***

In your opinion, is James’s situation unusual or is it something that is becoming more commonplace? Was James thoughtful, brave or even reckless in his actions? Here is some additional material that might help you decide:

KEEP Consulting: The value of career conversations between employers and employees

The value of career conversations - Update!

Best Regards


Friday, 6 February 2009

Research not Job Search

The label we give something affects our attitude towards it. If this wasn’t true, the trillions of dollars spent each year on branding would be completely wasted.

(Related Geek Stat: In 2008, the combined value of the 100 most powerful brands in the world was $1.94 trillion. Source: BrandZ Top 100 2008 Report, Millward Brown).

Job Search, Job Seeking, Looking for Work - it doesn’t matter which label you choose, they all speak of a necessary evil, not a positive process.

Thinking about ‘Research’ instead of ‘Job Search’ isn’t an act of spin or re-branding. Research is simply a better label for the tasks we need to undertake in order to achieve the most successful career outcome when we are looking for work.

[A corny image of the road ahead often represents career planning & job search. Gimme a break!]

Here’s a quick like-for-like comparison:

- Research is a skill you can learn. Job Search lacks professional structure & discipline.
- Research aims to understand & resolve complex problems. Job Search lumps all of the issues together and expects them to be solved in one hit.
- Research ensures every event, encounter, success & failure shapes its conclusion. Job Search dismisses most of our experiences as failures.
- Research can be an ongoing process that delivers continuous value. Job Search we can’t wait to get over.

It is Research not Job Search that is more likely to deliver success in your next career move. Perhaps Job Search is something we can avoid after all!

Have a great weekend wherever you are!

Best Regards



Here are some more posts on the role research plays in career management:


You’re way ahead, you just don’t know it yet...

Making contact


When no means know

Test, re-test and test again

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Expert career advice

I read some ‘expert’ career advice on the web today in an article called ‘Keep your job’.

Here are the 4 headlines this article said all of us need to be aware of in order to safeguard our jobs & careers:

1. Self-improve (acquire new, relevant skills)
2. Get noticed (businesses need innovation to pull through difficult times)
3. Don’t get noticed (don’t get caught looking for a new job)
4. Make a backup plan (be aware of alternatives in case your job comes under threat)

My problem with this article is that it makes some interesting points but doesn't go on to explain how we might progress them.

I liken it to my car breaking down at the roadside and a mechanic pulling over in a recovery truck. He offers to help but does so by making suggestions like, “Cars don’t tend to break down so often when they are regularly serviced” or “You could fix your car easily if you understood computerised engine management systems”. You get the idea.

[“Do you mean if I hadn’t parked under a tree this might not have happened!?]

When an expert offers their help you need it to get you somewhere not point out what you already know - or worse - offer ideas that suggest help but go no further.

The individual who wrote this career article is an expert and their expertise could help any number of us looking to safeguard our jobs & develop our careers in the challenging market we are working in today.

Maybe it is time for our experts to move beyond their ideas and get into practical areas (such as evidence, detail and testimony) and enable genuine career progress to be made.

Agree or disagree? Your comments are welcomed as always!

Best Regards



Here are some links focusing on career management, decision-making & job search beyond just the suggestion of ideas:

Managing career opportunities

Judging career success

Managing career change

Failure: A label applied by mistake

Job satisfaction

Practical exercise I

Test, re-test and test again

How To Help A Job Seeker

Monday, 2 February 2009

Making intelligent career choices

The ability to make intelligent career choices is open to us all.

This may seem like an obvious statement but I am not convinced that everyone would agree with it.

Some might argue that you can only make intelligent choices if you yourself are intelligent. Others might go on to say that because intelligence is shared out unequally, not everyone can make intelligent choices.

Personally, I do not subscribe to either view because I am convinced that intelligent choice is open to us all (I also don't believe that intelligence is unequal but that is another story).

Regardless how clever others say we are - or how clever we believe ourselves to be - we can all make intelligent choices. Just as it is also true that the very cleverest of people make foolish choices too.

Intelligent career choice relies - among other things - on our individual ability to understand our relationship with work. It also depends how we are judging or defining career success to ourselves, as well as to those around us.

Intelligent career choice is therefore something that we can learn more about and - another thing that levels the playing field - there is no barrier to entry other than our own motivation to better understand our relationship with work.

Anyone with the will to spend a little time on this subject will begin to make more intelligent choices and make progress in their career along the way.

[P.S. Where is Tom Cruise when you need him?]

For more posts on career choice and understanding your relationship with work visit: