Do you keep re-inventing yourself? You know, keeping your skills and your value relevant? Are you still “green and growing” or are you “ripe and rotting”?
Re-inventing Self (audio)
Who are you seen as and what are you best known for in your profession? What are your most outstanding attributes? How long have you relied on those to fuel your growth and promotion? Are you still interesting? What have you invested in your own personal and professional growth this last year? And the year before? What have you done to keep yourself current? Are you still “green and growing” or have you started to stagnate (as in “ripe and rotting”)? When will it be time and what will it take to re-invent yourself?
Why would you want to keep re-inventing yourself?
Let’s first find agreement on something fundamental. Do we always need to keep growing? I can hear some of you sighing and thinking: “growth, growth, growth… is that all there is?” and I have great sympathy for that question. Isn’t the global greed fueled growth obsession one of the reasons for our current economic woes around the world; one that is built on an economic model that has to keep growing or collapse?
Perhaps it depends on what growth we are talking about, doesn’t it? If we mean growth in our status or our financial position or in our roles and responsibilities (dare I say power?) in our professions then I guess excessive focus on growth is probably quite boring and tiresome.
If we mean personal growth so that we can become the “we” that we were meant to be, then I have quite some more empathy. To me (in my current age and stage in life) I have come to appreciate that (at least for me) this is what it is more about.
Can we agree on that? It is in this latter context that I want to write today’s article about what I consider the need to keep re-inventing ourselves.
Was your last re-inventing yourself forced?
Of course many of us have been forced by outside circumstances to have to re-invent ourselves. Think of all those around us that have lost a life partner, either though separation or their passing. This sudden and alarming separation can thrust us into new and unfamiliar situations where we have no choice but to adjust and sometimes start again, right?
One of the biggest challenges that brings upon us is how we deal with that. Some simply fall apart and really struggle to cope. Others seem to stoically be able to press on. And then there are all the shades between those two points. We were recently enthralled by a web based conversation between “Power of Now” author Eckhart Tolle and his guest Geneen Roth (author of books “Women, Food and God” and “Lost and Found”), where she described how in one single event, she and her husband lost their entire financial basis overnight and had to start again with absolutely nothing.
Her most compelling learning she shared with us was how she made a conscious choice to immediately accept that what had happened had happened, and that no matter how much she would risk listening to her “oh woe is me left brain mind chatter” it would change nothing; that putting that event behind her and only allowing herself to look forward was the only way she knew she was going to survive alive. And so she did, resulting in her having to re-invent herself, which she did, and then writing “Lost and Found” in order to share that experience with others like you and me. Inspiring story. I can see many of you shaking your head wondering how many of us are actually capable of doing that. Probably not many, but it is a choice, isn’t it? I have a recent example of a very dear friend who was faced with such a life changing event and can tell you from personal experience that this approach is both possible and achievable; as nonetheless difficult but as admirable as it is.
Or did you choose re-inventing yourself?
Perhaps people facing such “forced re-inventions” are better off, because they simply had to change, like it or not?
However, if we are living life “at cause” as I wrote in Cause and Effect, then you know that in order to become the “we” we want to be, we will have to grow through many Thresholds and continuously keep learning as in that famous old affirmation: “every day and in every way, I keep getting better, and better and better”. And so if we are striving to live our life and our life’s work towards our life purpose, it will be inevitable to have to re-invent ourselves, probably many times.
Yep, I have learned that it is a choice. I have learned that it is absolutely worth taking. And I have learned that adversity and challenge is what enables growth; that too protected a life of “the same old same old” cannot stretch and grow us.
I also believe that when we are ready for the next growth threshold, that we will be tested and given only the challenges we are ready for and that this will enable that breakthrough growth we all know we are capable of, but perhaps still a little too comfortable (or even complacent) to step up to.
Repeatedly re-inventing self
We have probably all re-invented ourselves in different ways during our career. I made a point in my career of moving roles between the IT service provider space and the end user management or operations space so as to always see the business perspectives of what we do in IT. IT also served my purpose of immigrating to Australia, as at the time that was the sought after skill-set. In a way changing countries with a young family to suit our prolonged lifestyle expectations was also a way of re-inventing self. However, my biggest re-invention came about when I re-invented myself as a coach after 35+ years of working and leading outcomes in the Corporate arena, so that today I am finally doing what I was born to do.
And so I believe it is up to us all to keep doing so. As employees we want to stay on top of our game and ahead of the rest so that we grow our skills and our attitude and maintain our competitive advantage over our peers.
As Contractors this is even more important so that we are always sharp and marketable to the next contract. The risk as contractors doing the same things over and over again is that we lose touch with what is really sought after and what the biggest value drivers are that our clients are looking for; that we always have a strong value proposition. This necessitates training and personal and professional development, which is what many a Contractor ignores because they aren’t earning in that time.
What role might your visibility have played?
Sometimes re-invention can be as simple as being in the Right place, Right time having created the right Visibility so as to be chosen for the right next role. Of course this will usually best come about if your career is being carefully managed and purposefully directed towards your Vision and as I wrote in Who is driving your bus?>
In that context it is also vital to have a purpose driven resume. Too many resumes simply list what has been done in a career, like a shotgun spraying shot in a broad trajectory, leaving the recruiter or employer to select from it they think might be relevant to what they are looking for. Better resumes follow much homework and due diligence on what the prospective employer is looking for so as to select and tailor its background to what is relevant for the role to be filled. That way the relevant skills and experience outlines a forward looking will not only to apply those skills but to grow them for the benefit of both parties.
Re-inventing yourself – how so?
One of my drivers to keep myself “fresh” is to maintain my curiosity. A curious and inquisitive attitude will keep an open mind that is going to be willing to learn. That, coupled with having set some goals (in writing) that outline what it is that we are striving for are great starting points.
Then I have learned that we need to convince ourselves that their achievement is possible and that we are capable of and feel we deserve them. This is where our Self Talk and our Self Worth becomes important to fuel the right Beliefs as Geneen Roth spoke about above.
This manifests in whether we see change as a threat or opportunity. That we choose to “have a go” even if we don’t have all our ducks in a row. That we understand that we can’t really direct a stationary vehicle; that for a vehicle to be directed, it first has to be moving.
I have learned that networking with a purpose serves to keep us exposed to others that are “going somewhere” and being inspired by and to learn from and be drawn to “bigger and better things”.
I believe that we need to keep reinventing our view of ourselves; removing perceived obstacles and letting them go and replacing them – that is to reinvent our view of ourselves also into opportunities that will drive us to be the best we that we can be.
So when next do you think it will be time for you to re-invent yourself? Are you already there in your life’s work and journey that you are doing “what you were born to do” or are there perhaps still a few steps to be taken?
Or perhaps you might be starting to feel a little stagnant?
Can you see the need for change ahead? Is there any time at all in today’s competitive world that we won’t see change ahead? Will that inevitable change ahead be seen by you as a threat or an opportunity? Irrespective of that Moving Away versus Moving Towards view, when might it loom big enough to act as a catalyst to get you to act?
Conversely, why wait for such a catalyst? Why not make a pro-active choice to plan your next re-invention and set some goals around it, whenever you think the right timing will emerge?
What if you could?