I've been contributing to the career advice column for almost two years and it is great to be back. Few key questions asked by many parents and colleagues from time to time are to do with:
- What am I good a
- What are the preferred jobs
- Will it be rewardin
- Will I enjoy it
So, I'm starting on a series of perhaps 10 to 15 focus areas that summarize my career learning, principles and philosophies. This is the first.
For this one, I'm going to answer an email from a reader asking about the first steps in good career planning, finding passion and leveraging strengths. Let me share my story...
I got a question from a colleague asking for perspective and advice for his career after working in a company as a sales manager for almost 7 years. I didn't tell him what to do, but in essence and principle in a private conversation in his office I was able to crystallize his core competency. I told him "You have a gift very few people have. You are multi-lingual". I wasn't talking about his limited Sinhala and Tamil skills. What I knew about him was that he enjoys metrics and can talk about the P&L with the CFO. And he also enjoys creativity - he used to be a designer, loved to write and have managed creative teams. And he is good at 'translating' between both. Most of all he enjoys using both sides of his brain.
In my career, I've learned that I find fulfilment in starting, building, and growing something. In addition, I want to do something innovative, forward-thinking, and unique and most importantly contribute to human improvement.
I have worked across four start-ups they are Keells Krest, SmithKline Beecham Vaccines, Samsung Mobile phones and now The Knowledge Factory and in my 15 plus years at companies spent in entrepreneurial change-leadership positions.
I believe I have a 'create' gene that needs to be scratched (maybe everyone does), and I gravitate towards opportunities that allow me to do so. My passion is fulfilled in the journey in these things as much as the destination, so the culture, environment and relationships are as important to me as the function and subject matter (and I believe they are critical to success anyway).
Have you discovered what you are great at and what you like to do? Not knowledge and skills, but your core competency and the kind of situation, culture and environment where you thrive?
For some people passion is functionally specific, like cooking. Not for me. However I would say marketing and sales as functions have exposed me to a diverse set of experiences and the kind of multi-tasking that exercises that 'middle-brain'.
Sometimes companies suggest employees take jobs where they have 'development opportunities'. In the book "First Break All the Rules", Marcus Buckingham asserts an empirically-based argument that employees (and therefore companies) are more successful when they play to their strengths. That's not to say you don't try to learn something new, but in the words of "Good to Great" you want the right people on the bus in the right seats.
It seems the first half of a career is the process of finding what you love and what you're good at. The best way to do this is to try new things.
However, the sooner you learn what you were born to do and start doing it, the faster you will reach your pinnacle of success.
There are 34 Strengths possible. Going through the extensive survey you can identify your top SIX. My top 6 are in bold, and you can see how they correlate to the findings about my passions and strengths above.
Think about a time when you were happiest and most effective, in your current job or a previous job or even in your school life. Was there a time when the days flew by and you looked forward to the next?
You were probably exercising your top strengths. And when that happens, you can excel beyond either your expectations, or the expectations of others!
To do what you like is not brave
To do what you don't like is foolish
Leading Marketer and reputed lecturer M. Failan Saleem answers your queries on career and education guidance every week.All you have to do is to write your question to the point and briefly on the coupon below and mail it to:
Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.
No. 48, Park Street, Colombo 2
To reach us on or before every Thursday.
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