Find your anchor
Q: In honor of recent graduates: When you finished your schooling, did you know what you wanted to do in life? How long did it take to find a job or profession that "fit" you? Are you still in your original field?
I'm a firm believer in Edgar Schein's theory of "career anchors." His research discovered that people should be less concerned about the specific profession they might go into and more focused on the set of skills that will carry them through a variety of jobs as their lives evolve.
Schein's premise is that we each possess a skill set that follows us throughout life -- skills that seem to "call to us" and that we depend on, whether practicing medicine, law, or business. The key to success is discovering those skill sets and then reinventing oneself around those traits as your life morphs -- whether by choice, the economy, or a bad boss.
I'm a case in point. I switched majors about four times in college -- medicine, nursing, literature, then teaching. I began as a high school English teacher. I transformed that into a training manager for corporate America and then skidded into the role of a human resources director. I got bored and pursued a doctorate in organizational psychology as I moved on to a vice president of organization development. Now I teach graduate school and I coach, counsel, and consult with business leaders.
Notice something about all of these career moves? The skills of teaching, guiding the process of discovery and learning, and assisting others in exploring and enhancing their capabilities followed me from that first high school position to sitting in front of my most recent CEO client. Knowing my "career anchors" enabled me to grow, change, and reinvent myself as needed. No one can take that away from me. It's my core.
Find your core skills and let them anchor you, whether you choose one profession or change it a dozen times.
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