Who's Career is it Anyway?

This talk usually starts with a question: “Who do you work for?”  The course participants will give a variety of answers, usually starting with the name of the company. Some offer the name of their direct manager, and some will venture a name of the CEO. What answer would you give had I asked you the question?

As varied as the options could be, there is actually only one correct answer to that question. You work for yourself. That’s the end of the story. Full stop. Talk  complete. Then, I see the puzzled looks on the faces in front of me.

Your career belongs to no one else but to you! You are the CEO of the company called you, and are responsible for its development, and drive it in the direction you desire. Is that a shock to you? Did you read this last bit and think: “I’m not directing my career.” Well, if you aren’t – then who?

My dad wasn’t one to dish out advice, but the one gem he dropped I would like to share with you is; how many cv’s he thought a person should submit through their life time, to be in the career or work environment they most desired? His answer – One! 
The logic behind that answer is that a person should work and manage career issues in such a way that it would only be required to submit a curriculum vitae for their first job. From there, my dad believed, prospective employers, or business partners, should bang at your door after news of your reputation and offer you a deal that you can’t refuse.

My father had a “One CV Recipe” that I believe holds true in todays’ business world. He believed in the 3 “R’s” - Responsibility, Reliability and Reputation. The implication of these three words is vast. Let’s briefly look at each word and its impact on our career.

1.   Responsibility: My dad’s version was a question: how do you respond to the abilities you own? Groom them, he would boom! Learn. Train. Practice. I had to be the “go-to-guy” if people wanted advice in my chosen field. To be the expert one must constantly learn, update and upgrade skills and knowledge. This single word is the foundation of my belief about being a lifelong student.

2.      Reliability: Do not only the right thing, but do things right, even if no one is looking, or better yet, when it’s not expected.  This constant striving for excellence will associate you with excellence. You will become the “go-to-guy they call all trust.”

3.      Reputation: Over a period of time, as you become the “go-to-guy”, your name and reputation will spread. This reputation is yours and needs to be looked after and protected always. It is your responsibility. The power of your reputation will determine the value people put on your product or service – namely – you!
Its only now that I am a little older, I understand that this “One CV” tactic my dad shared with me, takes a lifetime of growth, learning and integrity to achieve. It’s the only business life worth living. 

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