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Make every step count

Lifestyle Section - Editors Letter

  We were standing on top of a tall mountain this past weekend, when I had a thought  Last week, I’d sent a relative an email, outlining some ideas about work and his career ahead. I wrote: In our lives ahead, it seems these four statements will be true and relevant: 

We e were standing on top of a tall mountain this past weekend, when I had a thought  Last week, I’d sent a relative an email, outlining some ideas about work and his career ahead. I wrote: In our lives ahead, it seems these four statements will be true and relevant: 

1: Many jobs: We’ll have/need to have many in our lifetimes. Most employers are no longer offering “careers”, but tasks, on contract, with finite lifespans.

2: Many skills: Unless we reach a high level of specialisation, we’ll thus have to have a number of skills. Or, at very least, our core skills will need to be supplemented with strong secondary skills. Ongoing training/new skills development will be crucial, through our working lives. Equally, we’ll need to see our jobs as a progression – ie: if I do this job for two years, that’ll place me well to doing that next job for the following two years, with X and Y-newly-acquired skills, and so forth.

3: New opportunities: Many of our opportunities will come through non-formal channels.  Instead of traditional forms like newspaper ads, many of our opportunities will come through our “contacts”, and may not be directly linked to our primary skill/s.

4: Strong core: Following this, and because our jobs will be varied, and our skills development ongoing, our ability to sell ourselves, to be trusted, to be given opportunities and responsibility, and to deliver, could well depend on not what’s on our CV, but on “who we are”. On our character: our reliability, integrity, patience, confidence, empathy, courage, tenacity, kindness, determination.

Step 1:

So, if we agree with that last point, then when assessing our strengths, we need to have a clear idea of our “character”. This understanding must be as clearly defined as the details on our formal CV.

It’s thus essential to start this process by a comprehensive understanding your full character, of “who you are”. Some questions might be:

l What strengths do I have? This refers to your most important personal qualities, and all of them.

l What skills do I have? This must include all skills – not just “hard skills”. Soft skills – like being a “peace-maker” between friends, for example, could prove to be a more valuable skill, for you, than being a plumber.

l What do I love doing? Again, think hard, and be totally honest.

Step 2:

Then take those answers above, and brainstorm:

l What industries, jobs, roles, environments could I apply those strengths and skills to? Think broadly?

l What industries, jobs, roles, environments would you like to apply your strengths and skills to?

l Third, what would you need to do to make these opportunities happen?

l Fourth, who can assist me in all of the above three questions? Let me start building my comprehensive network.

l And, finally, what opportunities are already out there, which don’t necessarily interest me, but which I could take in the short term – possibly with a longer-term view of working back towards what does interest me?

I signed off, suggesting my relative to go through the process roughly above.

Standing on top  of the Helderberg Dome a few days later, with a bunch of schoolgirls, this occurred to me: how wonderful, to be up here on this day – surrounded by what must be one of the best views on earth: 360-degree views from Cape Point to Table Mountain, Robben Island, up the West Coast to Riebeeck Kasteel, to the mountains above Piketberg and Citrusdal, Wellington, Paarl, Jonkershoek, as far east as Danger Point, past Hermanus, and back ’round to False Bay.

But more than the view that this hike rewards, it’s about The Climb, the getting there. About building “character” – which’ll probably end up being more important to our careers than our Maths mark…

 

 


Written by Murray Williams You are reading Make every step count articles

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