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  • Writer's pictureEdwin and George

Grow – or go

EGM ON A Mission: Let’s Build Better Companies

We need to learn to be comfortable with feeling uncomfortable...

Ever wondered how lobsters grow?

In today's job world it's important to make sure you keep pushing to improve, stay relevant and grow.

Have you ever reached a point in your career when you felt pressure to make a choice?

Perhaps you applied for a role at another company, attended interviews and they’ve called to make a job offer?

You agree to think about it. Perhaps the role is in a different industry or function to the one you work in now. Perhaps it’s in a different sized company or another city.

Time slips by and your anxiety heightens – grappling with the dilemma.

One big choice.

You don’t want to relinquish the new position – but, then again, there’s a risk. It seems whatever choice you make it will be wrong.

Here’s a thought:

As long as you can see positive impacts from the new role in front of you, chances are it will move you forward.

  • It will enhance your skills.

  • It will build your network.

  • It will expose you to different working practices and cultures.

In her book ‘Choose Positively,’ Sukhinder Singh Cassidy says that:

"We always take fright at career decisions as they always seem to rest on the one big choice before us. Two or three generations ago, these choices may actually have been critical. If you wanted to be a senior manager you had to get a good degree and climb the well-defined path to the top. In those days, everything depended on a few big choices. Where you went to university, which profession you chose and which company you went to on graduation."

But these tracks to success don’t matter nearly as much as they used to. People are progressing through a multitude of ‘non – traditional’ routes.

  • Taking time out to learn new skills.

  • Moving sideways to develop experience.

  • Operating a ‘side hustle’ to build profile.

  • Building character and resilience by taking on new challenges.

(And, as an aside:)

  • A recent research study by LinkedIn involving management consultants found that people with diverse experiences advanced quicker than those who had a single speciality of work in the same business function.

  • Anjali Sud, CEO of Vimeo, was recently named in one article as ‘the master of the non-linear career’ on her rise to the top. ‘Some of my moves were successes and some were failures, but I always leveraged them to find new opportunities, which came from places you would never imagine.’

  • If your present position is stagnant or deteriorating, staying at that company and hoping things will improve, will ultimately make you feel worse.

  • And, as time goes by, you will have little choice but to take bigger risks to get to where you want to be.

  • As a German poet, Goethe once put it, ‘the dangers in life are infinite – including safety.’

In his book ‘The Future of Work,’ Jacob Morgan argues that ‘for some people these could be scary times – but for those who are prepared, will be times of great opportunity.’

As you linger in a company that fails to develop your skills, manages your development in line with out-dated frameworks, puts you on projects that don’t matter, gives you work that doesn’t stretch you and pops you in a box on an organisation chart with no hope of advancements, you are taking real risks.

  • Even if a career move doesn’t pan out as expected, it will allow you to gain experience you would otherwise miss if you stayed in your comfortable role.

At an organisational level, research shows that companies that fail to evolve and grow ultimately fail.

  • Kodak (we have a monopoly on the production of film for cameras).

  • Blockbuster (we are market leaders in DVD rentals) and

  • Nokia (no-one will ever use a mobile telephone that comes with a keyboard.)

Companies that thrive do the opposite.

In their book ‘Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick,’ three McKinney partners studied the attributes of companies that were successful over a fifteen-year period.

  • They found that the biggest factor for success as the ability to grow and evolve through new product development, mergers and acquisitions and launching service innovations.

  • Not making moves that involved risk turned out to be the riskiest strategy of all.

As with companies, so with individuals.

  • In ’12 Rules for Life,’ by Jordan Peterson, rule 4 is ‘compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.’

  • And Simon Sinek builds on this theme in his YouTube videos. In a career spanning 35-years, whet your friends or colleagues are earning or what positions they hold today are irrelevant. The only competitor in your career is, you, yourself yesterday.’ Do you have more skills and experience today than you did yesterday? Will you have more skills and experience at the end of the year than you do today?

When interviewing candidates, a good question to ask is ‘what’s your biggest career regret?’

You’ll find that few candidates answer citing failures in their current employment.

  • They’ll talk about the business they didn’t start.

The opportunity they dint take.

  • The skill they never learnt.

Seems the answer to the dilemma we started with seems a bit easier to answer.

‘Grow – or go.’

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