Successful career development requires staying relevant and this means riding the knowledge curve: if you want more you need to know more.
If you want more success and rewards in your career you need to know more. Expecting infinitely more returns from your current knowledge base is unreasonable; there’s only so much more you can squeeze out of a sponge before you need a bigger one and before you must replenish it with water.
Yet there are too many people who are unsatisfied with their lot in life because they believe they should be able to leverage their existing knowledge base to produce more and more personal benefits. They think they should be able to squeeze more personal benefit from what they’ve learned in the past.
Whereas this approach may work for a while, at some point one has to replenish themselves with broader and different skills and competencies if their end game is to be more relevant and therefore have an opportunity to be more successful.
If you’re no longer relevant, you’re done for future opportunities.
These 6 tactics will help you build your ‘know stuff’ repertoire:
What’s the new knowledge frontier? What are the growth sectors of the economy? Which way is the wind blowing in terms of new business opportunities and what skills do you need to possess in order to make a valuable contribution to their exploitation?
It’s not just about what you would like to do; it’s more about exploring what you need to do in order to be relevant in the changing world ahead.
For example, digital technology is definitely headed down the artificial intelligence path and bright people with AI knowledge are needed by companies that want to leverage it for financial gain.
So, if the job growth is disproportionately high in this sector you might want to find a way to play in it.
It’s critical you do your homework on this to discover what know-how will be sought after in the next few years
Context for learning is critical; make sure your learning curve follows the skills and competencies curve of the economy — learn and stay relevant.
Update your career plan based on your assessment of where industry knowledge needs are headed.
This is the step where you action what you discover in your knowledge frontier explorations.
For example, you may have been on a financial path and need to pivot to digital technology based on your frontier findings. If so, your career development plan needs an overhaul. Go back to a clean sheet of paper if need be; a new end game requires a different strategy to achieve it.
If you don’t build a specific career plan to exploit knowledge opportunities, you’ve wasted your efforts so far. And nothing will change for you.
Re-read BE DiFFERENT YOU! and a few of my blogs to make sure your career plan is solid and updated.
The Magic Question
Ask yourself the magic question as a way to focus your career plan pivot.
The MQ has always served me well in my career. I posed it every time I faced a job change: a new job, a demotion (yes, I had a major one of these), a lateral move, a new boss and so on.
And it guided me to make the right decisions that served me well.
”Now that I’m facing a change, what do I have to do differently” is a requisite for any pivot
Failure to ask the question is deadly; asking it and getting (in retrospect) the wrong answer at first, but eventually getting it right, at least keeps you in the game. It just costs you time.
Someone else’s shoes
My experience is that the wealth of knowledge available when you walk in another’s shoes often goes undiscovered.
Cross training or stepping in to assume someone else’s responsibilities is not seen to be the amazing learning opportunity that it really is.
So look for the chance to do someone else’s job for a temporary period and you’ll be amazed at how rewarding the assignment can be.
Either you might learn that the temporary role is not for you, or you’ll discover some aspect of it that appeals to you and that might lead you to seek learning opportunities on a different track than you were originally on.
Learning based on practical experience in my view is far more valuable than textbook learning only because you learn theory from a real life situation rather than merely hypothetical possibilities promulgated by theoretical experts.
Practical learning makes knowledge real and so it’s much easier to retain and replicate
The world is at our feet through the internet; there is more online knowledge available than most of us could ever tap in our lifetime.
So, go online and find a paper mentor you can learn from.
For me, Seth Godin has always been an invaluable marketing mentor for me though I’ve never met or spoken with him.
But because he is a prolific writer with an incredible perspective on where marketing needs to go in order to remain relevant, I learn voraciously from his published work.
Find a paper mentor that is in the sweet spot of your career development plan and not only study them but also try to apply what they teach.
Go find a younger person who is doing what you would like to do (again, as determined by your updated career plan) and rub shoulders with them.
This is where you probably have to build yourself a new contact list.
Younger people are generally on the cusp of breaking new knowledge so they represent an effective lens for you.
But don’t make it weird if your chronological impairment — aka your age — outpaces theirs.
Find a way to hang with them (probably virtually to begin with), conclude that they have knowledge to offer that you need and then play your relationship networking card to get closer to them.
Who knows? You may even make a friend for life.
The fate of your career development plan rests in your head; whether or not you keep pace with knowledge trends, and your capabilities to implement your new-found learnings in real world situations.
But the truth is, it starts with new thinking and new skills. So, go find what’s hot in the learning space, soak it up and apply it with passion like no other.