Veiled ChameleonThink you know what your career’s going to look like forever? Or are you savvy enough to know it’s survival of the most flexible in the modern workplace? Nothing is forever, says executive coach Lucinda Harlow. So read her expert advice on how to join the Career Chameleons…

I went to this event this week dubbed ‘Careers for Mums.’ Truthfully? I was a little skeptical. Ever seen an event titled ‘Careers for Dads’? Worse, there were baby pink balloons lining the event hailing all that is feminine. Urgh.

Putting on my best smile I walked past the balloons (note to self to not pop a single one) and got ready to make ‘nice.’ As I wandered through the event I was really, really surprised. It was a hive of activity and attracting lots of attention. Mums were not remotely put off by the pink balloon thing. They were getting stuck in with shaking hands with the right and rocking a pram with the left.  There were all sorts here. Universities offering endless courses to get back into the work place, banks to offer advice on start-ups, companies that offer part time/flexi work, social media courses …and on and on.

As I started chatting to people it soon became apparent that there were highly skilled workers here – barristers, investment bankers, journalists, PR gurus – who were all looking to reinvent themselves.

It put one of those big fat cheesy grins on my face. Know the one?

Why?

To have a successful career you need to re-invent yourself many times over. Now, I work with many an executive who does not fully appreciate this. They’re doing a serious job with great skill and determination but is it in their peripheral to reinvent or re-specialise? Not as often as you might think.

These women, though, were totally getting it. They were not stuck in a ‘that is not my area of expertise’ nor were they mourning the years spent training in one profession to find that they needed to do more.

These ladies were quite literally rolling up their sleeves and doing the Career Chameleon.

What does that mean? Well they were responding seamlessly to a change in career environment and adapting right before your eyes.

The reason why I’m committing this to ink?

Those of us in full-time work could learn a lot from these ladies. It’s really easy to forget that you need to be always prepared – men and women alike – to reinvent yourself.

It’s natural to want to identify yourself as a ’blah’ but you’ve also gotta know that what you are doing in five years time might look a little different. Like the chameleon you need to be able to recognise and adapt without the usual resistance when change stares you in the face. Be prepared to keep adding new identities, more skills and learn from the bottom up all over again if you want to be ahead of the curve.

Why?

Because there’s someone just behind you that is uber flexible. They are already stretching their wings and will fly to the top because they’re proactive and flexible when doing the Career Chameleon.

Chameleon checklist…
  • When categorising who you are and what you do add the caveat ‘for now’.
  • Accept that the dirty word ‘change’ is not just management speak. It involves you personally doing and being different.
  • Set yourself personal goals to embrace change right from skilling up to being open to personal change.
  • Listen more than you speak. Seek to understand before being understood.
  • Look at career development as THE further education.  Sorry but you don’t get to graduate until you retire.
  • Be light-hearted. Learn to enjoy the journey and not race for the finish line.

Here are just a few tips but there are lots more. What do you think is important when doing the Career Chameleon?

About the author

Lucinda is an Executive and Corporate Coach. You can reach Lucinda on: uevolve, LinkedIn, Twitter

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