“There’s no such thing as a second career, we only have evolving careers.” ~ James Marshall Reilly, author of Shake the World: It’s Not About Finding a Job, It’s About Creating a Life.
Growth is exciting and challenging. It can also be disruptive and stressful. Very often our capacity for disruption doesn’t measure up to our aspirations. How often do we leave it to our employer to meet our expectations? Or as a business we allow the day-to-day functions to become repetitive and humdrum? The point is that if you don’t learn to evolve – either in a career or in business – the arena of operation will stagnate; the employee offers no more than is expected, the employer never meets expectations. And expectations unfulfilled are a death knell to both ambition and business.
Let’s look at employees
There’s a rather startling statistic out there that says 70% of the world’s workforce is not happy with their jobs. They blame working conditions, salaries, lack of recognition and promotional opportunities, etc, etc. What we see is a gradual state of mind arising that everything is the fault of the employer. Despite what you may have been led to believe, your employer is not responsible for your happiness. And neither is anyone else. Invariably, it is our expectations of others that make us unhappy.
Expectation versus evolution
You can choose to cruise on expectation or create your own goals, ambitions and mindset. Expectation is like hope. It doesn’t do much. It floats. It can erode relationships, partnerships and dreams. It is the shadowy smile behind a politician’s promise. You expect that if you work well, you should get a raise, a promotion, or have your desk moved to a sunnier spot. But if you do no more than hope for this to happen, you begin to walk that common road to 70% unhappiness. Expectation is the mindset that only you have – what you expect to happen for your benefit. And that’s why expectation and discontent so often go hand in hand.
If you want make a difference in your working life, it is vital that you evolve your own set of standards, expertise and skills. On your own. Not necessarily for the benefit of your current employer – but for yourself. For future opportunities. To create your life. Experience and knowledge are the two key forces of change. Like evolution, they arise out of a need for constant adjustment, creating evermore satisfying and sophisticated systems. Without continuous improvement life can become tedious, repetitive, boring. If we don’t exercise our brains, test ourselves, stretch ourselves both in and beyond working hours, we become depressed, bitter and full of blame.
Before you complain about what you should be getting, have a look at what you should be doing:
- Avoid negative people
- Find something you enjoy learning about – not necessarily related to your job
- Make sure you have a personally developed plan and goals
- Seek out information – don’t always expect to be given knowledge
- Ask questions – ask for feedback
- Stay relevant by adding value to your job
- Evolving is your personal survival map and it has a lot to do with your own resourcefulness
- Be brave. Be authentic. Be proactive.
Let’s look at business
Businesses that don’t evolve, invariably do not survive. And it doesn’t matter the size of the business either. There are several indicators that your business is in need of a fresh injection:
- Gradual loss of clients;
- technology not implemented;
- lack of vision and product innovation;
- relying on ‘we’ve always done it this way’;
- a high staff turnover; and perversely – one that you should watch out for
- staff that never move.
Staff in the same jobs for ten or fifteen years are very often indicative of the fact that a company isn’t changing either. Staff stuck in routine are often as much your fault as theirs. Staff too steady, too seemingly ‘faithful’ may simply reflect that your business has not evolved much in years – and it’s time to wake up. And it’s not merely a matter of garnering more business (you’ve been beavering away at that for years) it’s about applying new ideas that will motivate, inspire and challenge your staff to evolve – and delight your clients!
Steps that may help your business to evolve
Evaluate your company’s current situation – then envision where you’d like to be. Consider the actions that could get you there. And then, because evolving is a continual process, be prepared to redo the entire procedure every two years.
But here are some tips on how to get started:
- Assess what works – and then improve it wherever you can
- Experiment a little with various ideas – and don’t be averse to giving up what doesn’t work
- Small is more flexible than a large business, and experimentation can be quicker and easier, but remember evolving is a continual process so expect constant review and revision
- Take small risks – you don’t know if you don’t try
- Develop a positive company culture – engage your staff in what you’re planning and add your sense of excitement to their own personal happiness plan
- Don’t be afraid to diversify – look at the possibilities of new ventures that complement your core business
- Look at your client/customer needs and find new experiences you can put before them before they’ve even asked
- Consider your employees input on customer relations (they often have more intimate knowledge of the likes and dislikes of clients)
- Don’t just try to meet the expectations of your employees, difficult as that may be, rather encourage and celebrate their initiative
- Be honest. Be aware. Be imaginative.
Evolving is about the journey and not necessarily the destination. You will never reach the end of learning and business can never cease to adapt and recharge. Evolution has created the perfect rose, the perfect butterfly, the complicated energy of the human mind. But it hasn’t finished. And neither will you. The process is as ageless as the universe – and as fresh as that idea you’ll have tomorrow.