You are not an island
Welcome to the the 3rd and final installment of Navigating Career Change. In Part One we delved into my insights on rediscovering Self and in Part Two I shared my views on personal growth and mindset.
I have to say, it was hard to choose a topic for this last article. There are so many places I could have taken it. But, in the end I have chosen to write about the fact that when it comes to change, it is not always about you. It's a phrase we've all heard thrown around but I wanted to take this opportunity to share my thoughts on how this plays out when we face change.
As I mentioned in part one, the origin of the change you may be facing could either be self initiated or it could have been forced upon you by external forces. Either way, it's important to acknowledge and explore the broader impact this change could/is/will have on those around you, both in your personal and professional circles.
You Will Need Support
"Duh", I hear you say, "that's a no-brainer!". Well yes, and no. Here's why. Everyones idea of support is different. Some see support as a necessity, while others see asking for support as a weakness and are reluctant to go there. Either way, the journey of change will require you to acknowledge that perhaps you don't know or can't do everything that you would like to.
If we can be secure in our sense of self, and come from a mindset of growth and development, then asking for support during major life changes should be seen as an opportunity to leverage the strengths of others. The strengths of others, complemented by our own, mean we are likely to be more successful in navigating the change we are facing. Strength in numbers.
You Will Need to Support Others
This again may seem like an obvious statement, but I thinks it's an interesting one to explore.
While you may be at the center of the change and be the one directly affected, it's the indirect effect on those closest to us that also needs to be recognised. The point I want to emphasise here is that change can be a lot more wide spread in it's impact then we might have originally thought. And it's for this reason that I encourage anyone who is facing large scale change to be mindful of how those around them are coping (or not) as they go down their own path of change.
It's all too easy to become consumed with what is happening to ourselves, to be too internally focused on what we are facing, that we forget to lift our gaze, step back, and look at the bigger picture.
How many times have you seen people announce that they are about to make a career change, or they're leaving the company, and while it's usually a positive encouraging response from their friends and colleagues, it's addressed only at the individual who is making the announcement.
"What's wrong with that?", I hear you say. Well, nothing at all really. My point is more about what isn't being said. Or more precisely, who it isn't being said to. Being mindful of the fact that this person didn't arrive at the decision to make large scale change over night and that there is a close group of people that are also going on this journey with them. They should also be recognised as being just as brave, scared, excited, nervous, stressed, elated, as the person in the limelight. They are also going to need support. And quite likely it will be different to that of the person in question.
So, how do we know what support we need? Or need to offer others?
A wise person once said to me it's not our strengths that define us, it is how we use our strengths that defines us.
If we are aware of our strengths, and using them in a positive and intentional way every day, then we are going to feel more secure, successful, and capable when dealing with what comes our way. The first place I would start in determining what support you might need is to first have a good awareness and understanding of your personal strengths.
There are a number of strength profiling options out there but two that I would recommend are the VIA Character Strengths profile, and the R2 Strengths Profiler. Both are scientifically based and will provide you with differing degrees of insight into your personal strengths. Armed with this information you'll be in a much better place to understand how you can operate in a positive, stronger, more happy and engaged way while at the same time being mindful of where you may be exposed and the potential risks associated with your weaknesses.
Likewise, when looking to support others, it helps to be able to spot their strengths. This way you'll be able to recognise when they are not operating from a place of strength and you'll be in a position to offer support or engage them in conversation around how to shift into using their strengths. Assuming they are aware of what those are.
Strength spotting is a skill that can be developed over time, but it starts with awareness. As mentioned above, when people are using their strengths they are more energetic, happy, engaged, and capable. It's obvious then, that when they are not exhibiting these characteristics, they are more likely to be operating from a place of fear, overwhelm, or anxiety.
What I want for you.
I want you to be able to experience more happiness, engagement, and achievement by being aware of and using your strengths more often. Your confidence will grow as you achieve your goals more effectively and efficiently and you will be in a much better place to deal with and successfully manage change, whether you initiated it or not.
Take action now and block some time on your calendar and work through the following list:
- Acknowledge that you are not an island and that you do need the support of others, both now, and in the future. Change your mindset!
- Take the VIA Character Strength profile and become aware of your top 5 strengths.
- Reflect on how your Top 5 strengths have helped you in the past, and how they could also help you now and in the future.
- Become aware of when you are using your strengths and how it feels. Look for more opportunity to apply your strengths.
- Look for strengths in others and encourage them to use their strengths more often. Make them aware of their strengths by telling them when you've noticed them demonstrating strengths behaviours.
- Take note of the strengths of others and be aware of how they could complement yours. Look to achieve a more synergistic outcome together.
If you've read to the end of this long article I thank you for hanging in there. I hope you have enjoyed this three part series on navigating change.
If there are others you know that could benefit from these readings then please share them around.
Simon is a professionally trained Coach, a certified R2 Strengths Profiler, and is currently undertaking a Diploma in Positive Psychology & Well-being. Combining this with over 15 years corporate experience, Simon works with busy and overwhelmed individuals to help them find purpose, clarity and regain a sense of achievement. Find out more here.
Book your Free 30 minute session with Simon here.