THE CONSCIOUS CHOICE
Before beneficial change can take place, you must recognize that change is necessary and be ready to implement that change.—K.L.
We have introduced the "8 Cs of Success," so let's begin by examining the "Conscious, Constructive Choice" component. Above all, being an effective Career Choreographer calls for you to consciously and consistently make constructive career choices and decisions. The word "conscious" for us means a clear, mindful intention to act in a specific manner, which is to honestly and non-defensively consider and weigh your values, and thereafter make a positive career decision. This process is an active one on your part, with you excited and hungry to raise the quality of your professional life by taking constructive action. The question you should pose to yourself is "Am I truly ready to make beneficial changes in my life?"
When answering this question, take your time and dig honestly and deeply into your heart of hearts. In developing individuals' careers for more than thirty-five years, I have found this exploration to be essential, because if you're not ready to identify your truest values, as well as acknowledge what's not working in your professional life, then in all likelihood you will not be nearly as successful as you will be when you are ready, engaged, and committed to the process.
Like snowflakes, we're all different, and we all have different developmental timetables. I was a late bloomer as a child—over-weight, clumsy, and unfocused on schoolwork. Fortunately, my mom never compared my slow rate of development with that of other, more quickly maturing children. All I wanted to do as a youngster was play ball. It wasn't until I was a senior in high school that I found myself intellectually and emotionally ready and eager to embrace my schoolwork. With this new, committed mindset, I graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University. I enjoyed a similar experience with my athletic and professional endeavors. When I was psychologically and intellectually prepared to grow, I passionately made the most of both of these pursuits. So I understand how crucial it is to be authentically ready to embrace any new course of behavior.
An inspiring illustration of being ready to rise to the occasion involves former tennis professional James Blake. Prior to 2004, James had been moderately successful on the pro tour. Then, in 2004, three things happened that dramatically changed his life: His beloved father died of cancer, James crashed into the net post during a match and fractured vertebrae in his neck, and he contracted shingles, causing him vision problems in his left eye and temporary paralysis of his face. His sudden health problems allegedly led James to believe that his tennis career was over.
Fortunately, James completely recovered from both physical setbacks. After a long and tedious road back, he convincingly won his first two matches of the 2005 U.S. Open. Just two days later, James shocked the tennis world by beating Rafael Nadal, the U.S. Open's second-seeded player, who had already won nine tournaments that year. In fact, James not only defeated Nadal but crushed him on one of the world's biggest tennis stages. James seemed to be playing better tennis after his illnesses and injuries than he ever had before.
How did this amazing feat at the U.S. Open take place? I believe that it was because James was in every way ready to take positive ownership of this part of his life!
So at this juncture, please take all the time you need to determine if you're committed to raising the quality, happiness, and satisfaction of your job or career. If you are, let's get started mastering the art of being a great Career Choreographer.
As we move forward, it is crucial to remember that going through the process of designing and implementing a choreography entails just that—a process, not a quick fix. The progression is much more often akin to a marathon rather than a sprint. However, depending upon the difficulty of attaining the goal in question, the choreography at issue can involve just a few quick steps.
Also remember that choreography designers will often take gratifying steps forward as well as beneficial steps backward, and they must have the flexibility, creativity, and poise to be able to construct a new or modified step, or set of steps, when changes or unexpected events occur. Your goal is to be as adept as possible at being constructive and adaptable.
In implementing choreographies, you will experience plateaus as well as growth spurts. But even the most successful designers take some counterproductive or ineffective steps. They also may not effectively implement some of the right steps along the way. This is part and parcel of the exploration and growth processes. The key is for you to always keep your choreography and your Big-Picture Goals in mind while continuing to learn and grow from your victories, as well as from your missteps. If you are able to learn as you go, you thereby make all of your goal-attainment experiences constructive and self-enhancing. All of these learning experiences will be part of the rock-solid goal-attainment foundation that Career Choreography seeks to provide.
This excerpt ends on page 20 of the hardcover edition.
Monday we begin the book Bringing Up the Boss: Practical Lessons for New Managers by Rachel Pacheco.