For those of us who have been in the corporate world for a while, it’s difficult to piece together learnings that would be useful for those on the threshold of starting their own careers. At the start of one’s career, the future seems formidable. Who amongst us has not worried about which attributes to focus on to be successful. Whether it is acquiring great charisma, building the right skill, or is there another secret ingredient?
When we observe people who succeed in organisations, the first thing we notice is that they have diverse characteristics. Each comes with different combinations of personalities, attitudes, values, and strengths. However, what is common among the ones who succeed is that they have been able to adapt and evolve to use their strengths to handle the change they encounter regularly.
More than at any time in the past, we are being forced to deal with shifts in what we are familiar with. We can link these movements to the red and blue shifts that we learnt in high school physics that happen when light moves away from us (the red shift) or towards us (the blue shift). Technology, business models, and physical environment, all seem to be moving away from us. At the same time, relationships at work, our ties with the community, and our need for affinity seem to be moving inwards. Just as in physics, shifts are part of the world around us and if we don’t deal with these shifts, we are certain to miss something interesting.
What can we do as individuals to handle these shifts in a way that give us a better chance of success at what we want to achieve? Let’s look at three key areas - how we learn, how we work with others, and how we handle ourselves.
Most of us associate learning with formal education. The one that we receive at the schools or universities. But the truth is that learning doesn’t end after graduation, it expands with each unique experience. In this increasingly connected world, an average person has to deal with a lot of stimuli that goes in the guise of learning. Which is why, it has become critically important for everyone to curate their learning experiences and to keep refining them. You need to invest effort in having a personal learning cloud for yourself. A cloud where one can do two things – draw resources for personal learning and the second is to contribute your learnings to others. The moment you stop both these activities, then your use to your learning ecosystem diminishes.
Our networks today are a combination of both business and social interactions, opening us to the possibility of acquiring newer insights and intelligence through our connections. Trends and patterns that cannot be detected by us individually may be made visible within our social or business network through tools and analysis. Building networks is one of the first steps for what can be termed as competitive collaboration which will be a key component in how we work in the future. Like anything else, building a network requires hard work, study and patience. Those with great networks keep working at them, to attain perfection.
How do you measure your success, and be peaceful and satisfied? All of us are driven by emotions, but we all often get caught up in unnecessary status concerns and superficial comparisons. For instance, if a professional validates his or her success with the metric of earning more than a classmate, then they might end up having a lot of money. However, such a metric for success can also make one very unhappy, because there will always be another classmate who earns even more. This will leave one with a feeling of un-fulfilment, probably even a feeling of failure. Therefore, care must be given in choosing how to measure success, because the purpose we choose for ourselves will determine our actions, beliefs and sense of achievement. Inner peace sounds strange as a word, but its importance through ones career is very real.
Focusing on these three areas will better equip you to deal with the red and blue shifts that will continue to meet us. By dealing with them effectively, you will better define what is it that makes you, it’s you. Where you go from the place where you are at today will be determined by your vision for your future, and your actions in the present. Imagine that you are in a room with a bunch of things – some old, some new, some you are aware of, and some you aren’t. And this room is always changing, never the same each week. You change this room, sometimes unknowingly and most times knowingly, when you learn new things, make new friends, and embrace change to progress and be better today than you were yesterday. Happiness is not in changing the direction of the wind, it’s in learning to adjust your sail.
Views are personal.
The author is EVP, head, HR, Infosys.