I have been helping a number of my teammates on their growth and development plans over the last quarter. In doing so, I have been reflecting on whether or not having a career plan is a key to professional success.
The benefits of a plan
A plan forces you to think about what is important to you for the future. It is impossible to think about a plan or a roadmap for your career without consider the question, “where do I want to be in 1, 3 or 5 years?” In thinking about this question, generally the only way to answer it is to work hard to look internally to identify what is important to you. To me, this is one of the largest benefits of planning.
Even if the plan is a loose set of steps, it helps you to take a step. Sometimes in my professional life, I have felt frozen – like I don’t know what to do next. A plan can help nudge you forward. It may help you to read a new book, attend a new online training, or have a mentoring discussion with someone that you respect. Even a small step is better than none.
Having a plan allows you to share with those around you what you are interested in doing and why. This becomes important because at times, those around you can see things that can help you that you may not be able to see. If you have shared your plan, you can get help from your people.
But there are downsides to a plan as well. I appreciate how real some of these downsides can feel.
The downsides of a plan
You can spend too much time thinking about the plan and not enough time taking steps to make it happen. The act of planning alone can be what freezes you. If this is the case for you, an imperfect a step forward or one that isn’t on a “plan” is much better than continuing to stay in place.
With a plan, sometimes you can get so focused on executing your plan, the steps that you have outlined, that you miss an opportunity that isn’t wasn’t on the plan. Todays world of business (and life for that matter) is changing very quickly. In fact, in my 20+ years of working the speed of change has never been greater. So, we all have to stay adaptable and willing to let whatever plan we have change based on opportunity.
Sometimes by having a “career” plan overemphasizes this part of your life. It is hard to keep life in balance and planning holistically for your life is probably a better way to think about it. I will let you know if I ever do this well. It is hard!
So, my question for all of you reading is which side do you land on? Is having a “career plan” a priority for you, and how has it helped? or hurt?
I wanted to share an email that I wrote to my close friends and family this morning. I got enough positive feedback on it, that I wanted to share it here in hopes to help with the Movement. These times make me reflect on one of my favorite leaders with some wise words from Abraham Lincoln. #BlackLivesMatter
Hi friends and family,
These are challenging times across our country. I hope that this email finds you healthy and happy.
Many of you may have seen my facebook or LinkedIn post, but if not, I wanted to communicate to you directly this way. I know that this message finds us all at different points in our lives, with different points of view. I believe that part of our role in society is to learn more than ever about all sides of the issues in front of us. Through educating ourselves, and remaining vulnerable and open-minded, I believe we can all make change. I know so many of you for the good that you do in the world, and am hoping that this set of content can only help you to do more good, your way. I don’t intend to offend you, nor assume that you haven’t seen nor read any of these items. My goal is only to play an active role in a conversation that matters.
First, the Facebook post I posted this last weekend said this… “As the world has spun out of control around us in the last few months, I have worked hard to focus on doing what I can do to help. Whether it be at work, at home, for my family, for my mental health or for others. The last two weeks simultaneously deepened my sadness, anger and despair for the realities that we live in, for the lack of equality for our Black brothers and sisters, and provided me hope that THIS IS THE MOMENT that we ALL begin to act to start the movement to fix systemic racism in our country. We all must stand up, use our voices, learn the realities of the big and the small acts of discrimination that are pervasive in this country for our Black friends. AND, make change happen. Don’t just learn, ACT. #BlackLivesMatter”
Here are a few things that I hope that you will read or listen to on a quest to learn or in hopes that you have seen them before. If you have unique articles and perspectives that you are consuming to help you understand, please share back with me.
The original videos or compilations of the specific horrible acts over the last 3-4 months:
And a short video on the blind spots that we all have (implicit bias). Business has done a good amount of content on implicit bias if you want to learn more.
I know that we may never agree on politics, but my perspective, as a leader in business, is that leaders need to pull people together for a common cause. Our job is to motivate action. To me, the most important cause for all of us as leaders is affording all humans (race aside) equal human rights. Our Black brothers and sisters don’t have this privilege. Jon and I are on vacation this week, and we were driving through a beautiful lake-side country club area yesterday. We decided to pull in, and walk down to the water to capture the view even though we weren’t supposed to be there. We did so without fear. It struck us that even that small act may be scary for a Black couple who feel the daily biases built by our history (either conscious or unconscious). We must change this.
We can control how we behave: the words we choose, the actions we take and where we put our money. We can control what we teach others, especially our children, but also what learning happens in our circles through table-talk, and at our business and community/religious institutions through the topics we take on. And, just as important or more, we can control what leaders we follow and what we expect from them (political, religious, social, community, business). If they fail the cause, we can control how we vote both locally and nationally, how we support businesses/organizations based on their leaders.
So, it is BOTH personal and political. Even if your local or political leaders have other things you agree with, please consider that this issue is MORE important than any issue that you may be aligned on as you prepare for the voting season ahead. Please consider supporting businesses and community organizations that have leaders who meet these expectations. Do your research, don’t assume based on what you see on Facebook, or in the media.
This cause is more important than all others because without basic human rights, we have neither a stable society nor one where the other political issues matter.