Friday, October 11, 2013

First challenge of your career is finding your work-path

Career destination is known

Destination points are known: We all work in our careers to reach one of the four destinations. According to the HBS researcher Laura Nash, it is either achievement measured by money or reputation, satisfaction, significance in work, or leaving behind legacy. Although, we may not mention our career destination in these four words, if someone drills us it will be either of the four or the combination of this four outcomes. 

But starting points are different: To reach this destination, we start from different starting points. As we discussed earlier, we possess 3Cs of talent in varying degree - Cognitive abilities, Character traits and Conative traits. In terms of abilities, we may have different innate abilities. Either we may have high cognitive ability ( meant for researcher or executives in companies), or kinesthetic ability ( meant for sportsman) or musical ability. In character traits, we may have different combination of character traits such as self regulation, creativity and/or emotional stability. Similarly, our Conative traits may be well developed or not. Conative traits motivate us. They automatically chose directions for us. For instance, if we discover passion early in life ( like Sachin Tendulkar) it is easier to focus on the path to the destination. But when we find our meaning in life at the age of 40, we may waste lot of time choosing wrong directions. 

Nurturing support to grow the innate abilities are varied: Our innate abilities are not just enough to help us cross the line. We also need support from our families, school and social environment in nurturing these 3 components of talent. While your school may nurture your logical ability like science, it may not encourage your artistic ability like painting ( even if you have it). The same is true for our character traits. While in some families, self regulation is nurtured, in others, it may be hampered. The same happens with conative traits. If you are lucky to have parents who have clear purpose in life, you will also imbibe it and will chose the shortest path to reach the destination . But if you have parents who do not have any purpose in life, you may spend a large part of your life in correcting wrong directions. 

Cross roads image copyrighted by Martin Lieberman.See the source (C) by 

Starting challenge in your career is charting your work-path 

Ultimately, you have to find a best possible domain or work-path that will help you reach the career destination, given your abilities. From this work-path, you will find your unique career-path. But finding your unique career path is not easy. One has to start with a work-path which will ultimately help you choose a  career-path.

If you are studying, you have to chose projects. This means actively testing your knowledge base with simulated domains (like projects and assignments) so that you are sure about the quality of your knowledge base. Even while changing your disciplines (say from Engineering to MBA), you must ensure that you are developing strong enough knowledge base instead of just changing because others are doing it. More often than not, students make mistakes because they forget they are different than others.They pick a easy road like Abhay who chose to do MBA after engineering ( in the earlier case we discussed). But unaware of the valleys and ditches around the corner, like Abhay, they remain unprepared and unequipped. So when they cannot encounter those blocks, they lose lot of 'career' time in surmounting them. 

If you decide to work, choosing your work-path is choosing your domain that will give you enough options to help you combine your abilities/traits. Because both your starting points and nurture grounds are unique to you, your path of growing abilities/traits is also different than others. Therefore, do not copy other's work-paths. 

Some professionals make elementary mistakes, because they do not know the arithmetic of ability development. Not knowing that conative traits take long time to develop than cognitive abilities, they start developing conative traits too late. And they pay the price like Phatak, which we discussed earlier, because the gap in conative traits cannot be filled easily if they have not started the process of developing that trait early enough. That is why, you find many professionals, in the age group of 40, are stuck in their career, because they do not know their 'purpose' in life. And even if they decide to find it out, it takes such a long time, that they lose all their motivation and heart until they find it.

When you do not find the right work-path, you cannot spot the opportunities that are staring at you. For instance, you may be working with a 'dominating boss' who wants you do 'everything'. Instead of using the opportunity to learn and do the functions and activities of your boss, you react to your emotions, instead of responding. So when you are promoted, you are ready to fail ! 

Charting your work- path ( domain) is therefore the first step in ensuring that you will reach your career destination ! 

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