Quest for Meaning in A Jagged Path

By Masimba Biriwasha | Preoccupations | @ChiefKMasimba | January 05 2014

What happens when your career path meanders in a way that you never imagined, taking you in directions that you could have never plotted?

It’s a question that I have pondered upon of late as I reflect on a career that has taken to me to different parts of the world so far with too many ups and downs to count.

It’s been a like a roller coaster trip but through it all I have managed to discover some interesting things about myself. The things I have discovered are not so much about what career path to take but what brings a spark to my soul.

For instance, I know now that I love design, aesthetics fascinate me, I love tech. I like interesting challenges. Repetitive stuff must build to something, otherwise it becomes a bore. Tyranny sucks. No-one has all the ideas. I love writing. I love publishing. Futuristic things tickle my fancy. I think entrepreneurship is important. I love starting things. I love books, newspapers and magazines. I like progressive ideas.

I can say all this with confidence now but it has taken some serious bruising for the light to descend on me. In a way, the journey has strengthened me in as much as it has been both painful and interesting.

When I started working ten years ago, I had no fixated thoughts about where my career was going to go: I was somewhat open to everything. After all, opportunities were limited due to Zimbabwe’s political and economic fallout.

My first job as a media researcher fired me up but after a while it turned out to be drab, repetitive and downright boring. Many times I just held my head between my hands and just cried, praying for a way out of all the drudgery.

Looking back, I realize that it was the only job I held for more than two years. When I look at my résumé, it certainly looks like I have been hip hopping from job to job. But now I am aware that it’s not just about the job. It’s what you bring to it. If you focus so much on what you get from a job, you’ll have a career that sucks.

More important, I’m affected by the values espoused in a workplace. In some of my  workplaces, managers were not so nice to their subordinates.

I think managers and leaders need to have high levels of empathy. They need to respect people. Leadership is not a license to tyranny.

I value openness, diversity, humility and – most important – authenticity. I want to be part of something of greater purpose that’s larger than me.

I don’t have any regret about the trajectory of my career. For sure, it’s been peripatetic but it has helped be to see the world from wider lenses, from higher mountaintops shaped through my journeys.

In retrospect, I don’t think it’d important to have everything figure out. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to work hard when opportunities present themselves or even burn your bridges. You have to work hard and do your best. In spite of circumstance, give your all to whatever you’ll be doing. Trying to set plans in stone can be toxic.

Above all, expose yourself to the world. Travel, if you can. And don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh a lot. And make time to enjoy nature. Watch a butterfly twirl against the wind. Plant a tree.

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How to Shine Up the Career Ladder

In a corporate world that is increasingly over-crowded, highly competitive and ever-changing, getting a promotion can indeed be a hassle.  But, through deliberate, well planned steps, and a willingness to take initiative, you can put yourself at the front of the line for a promotion.  

 

First things first: If you keep yourself sheltered away from the attention of your bosses, you will always miss the opportunity to climb up the corporate ladder.  A promotion typically means having more responsibility.

 

So you have to position yourself as a person that has the aptitude, value and capability to meet the requirements of a potential promotion.  

 

Develop career goals. You must be absolutely sure about where you want to go. Start maintaining a career journal where you write down your career goals. It’s important to make sure that the promotion is in alignment with both your credentials and personal goals. Develop long-term, medium-term and short-term goals that will keep you grounded towards a career upgrade. If you find it difficult to envision, consult a career coach to help you develop a clear perspective of what you want to do. A coach will help to expand your vision and push you to function at your peak.   

 

Do your current job well and more. If you want to make it to the top of the corporate ladder, do your current job well. Demonstrate honesty, empathy, trustworthiness and an ability to be a team player. See every challenge and responsibility as an opportunity to shine, and to sell yourself to your organization. Always review what you are currently doing and identify gaps that can allow you to do more. The surest way to get promoted is to do more and better than is expected of you. Show the value in yourself and create a demand for your abilities.   

 

Make a contribution. Start right away to contribute ideas and suggestions to improve processes, practices and profits of your company. To grant you a promotion, your company has to be satisfied with your value. Get all the facts about your ideas. Having more information will increase chances of your ideas and suggestions being accepted, and put you in favor to get promoted.

 

Keep a portfolio of your work. You must maintain a portfolio of work contributions that are directly connected to the position that you seek. Never make an assumption that your bosses know what you’re doing. Without being big-headed about it, let your organization know of your accomplishments. Gain visibility with your current job successes.  

 

Review job descriptions. Be clear about the additional responsibilities involved in the promotion as well as the salary level. In your career journal, keep job advertisements that underline the major duties or responsibilities of the job you want to promote in. Make a note of the qualities, attitudes and outputs required for that upward career opportunity. After you have identified these attributes, the next step is to put them into practice to prepare yourself for a promotion.  

 

Update your resume. Take time to review your current skills and accomplishments, including what you’ve learned in your current position. Update your resume so that it reveals your talents and hidden skills. Make sure your resume is specific to the potential career upgrade. Remember: Highlight unique qualifications and background. A well-written resume can significantly improve your chances to landing a promotion.  

 

Develop your skills. Identify areas that need improvement: don’t just focus on your strengths. In your career journal, make a note of areas of weakness and strive to improve in those areas that are critical to your promotion. In an ever-changing business environment, you must constantly update your skills to enhance your chances to get promoted.  Consult and learn from experts in your field. Find out what they did to succeed, what they would do different, and steps that you can take to improve your chances of a promotion.  

 

Take Courses in Your Field. Many companies require a potential candidate for promotion to have an advanced degree. Like it or not, having an advanced degree exponentially increases your chances to move to the front of the promotion line. Target unique qualifications. Read books, join a professional association, attend seminars and do courses that will build your knowledge, skills and abilities.  

 

Market yourself. Make full use of every opportunity to sell yourself. If you’ve got it, flaunt it and don’t wait quietly for someone to acknowledge you. Make sure that you demonstrate your ability to hold a higher position with flair and confidence. Also, show how your past achievements have contributed to the growth of the organization. When it comes down to the selection process, make sure to put your best foot forward, just like you did when you were first hired.    

 

Get networking right. If you want to fly like an eagle, then you have to stop taking lessons from chickens. Avoid co-workers and people that will pull you down through negative talk, and fill you with frustration over your desire to get a promotion. Associating with winners will fill you with a positive outlook on life and your career opportunities. Surround yourself with people that are success-oriented, and will encourage you to take the big leap forward towards a promotion.   

 

Make yourself outstanding. There’s no doubt that polish and presence are critical ingredients for a promotion. Be open to new inputs and ideas. Become an expert in your field. Write articles or a book. Develop a dress sense that shows you are headed for the top.  

 

Positioning yourself for a promotion at its most fundamental is an inside job. It’s a matter of finding what you want, and expressing that essence and character in everything you do.  

 

With hard work and an effective strategy, you can raise your stakes to get a promotion. 

 

So don’t let anything stop you.

Going Up the Career Ladder

In a corporate world that is increasingly over-crowded, highly competitive and ever-changing, getting a promotion can indeed be a hassle. But, through deliberate, well planned steps, and a willingness to take initiative, you can put yourself at the front of the line for a promotion.

First things first: If you keep yourself sheltered away from the attention of your bosses, you will always miss the opportunity to climb up the corporate ladder. A promotion typically means having more responsibility. So you have to position yourself as a person that has the aptitude, value and capability to meet the requirements of a potential promotion.

Develop career goals. You must be absolutely sure about where you want to go. Start maintaining a career journal where you write down your career goals. It’s important to make sure that the promotion is in alignment with both your credentials and personal goals.

Develop long-term, medium-term and short-term goals that will keep you grounded towards a career upgrade. If you find it difficult to envision, consult a career coach to help you develop a clear perspective of what you want to do. A coach will help to expand your vision and push you to function at your peak.

Do your current job well and more. If you want to make it to the top of the corporate ladder, do your current job well. Demonstrate honesty, empathy, trustworthiness and an ability to be a team player. See every challenge and responsibility as an opportunity to shine, and to sell yourself to your organization. Always review what you are currently doing and identify gaps that can allow you to do more. The surest way to get promoted is to do more and better than is expected of you. Show the value in yourself and create a demand for your abilities.

Make a contribution. Start right away to contribute ideas and suggestions to improve processes, practices and profits of your company. To grant you a promotion, your company has to be satisfied with your value. Get all the facts about your ideas. Having more information will increase chances of your ideas and suggestions being accepted, and put you in favor to get promoted.

Keep a portfolio of your work. You must maintain a portfolio of work contributions that are directly connected to the position that you seek. Never make an assumption that your bosses know what you’re doing. Without being big-headed about it, let your organization know of your accomplishments. Gain visibility with your current job successes.

Review job descriptions. Be clear about the additional responsibilities involved in the promotion as well as the salary level. In your career journal, keep job advertisements that underline the major duties or responsibilities of the job you want to promote in. Make a note of the qualities, attitudes and outputs required for that upward career opportunity. After you have identified these attributes, the next step is to put them into practice to prepare yourself for a promotion. Update your resume
Take time to review your current skills and accomplishments, including what you’ve learned in your current position. Update your resume so that it reveals your talents and hidden skills. Make sure your resume is specific to the potential career upgrade.

Remember: Highlight unique qualifications and background. A well-written resume can significantly improve your chances to landing a promotion. Develop your skills
Identify areas that need improvement: don’t just focus on your strengths. In your career journal, make a note of areas of weakness and strive to improve in those areas that are critical to your promotion. In an ever-changing business environment, you must constantly update your skills to enhance your chances to get promoted.
Consult and learn from experts in your field. Find out what they did to succeed, what they would do different, and steps that you can take to improve your chances of a promotion.

Take Courses in Your Field. Many companies require a potential candidate for promotion to have an advanced degree. Like it or not, having an advanced degree exponentially increases your chances to move to the front of the promotion line. Target unique qualifications. Read books, join a professional association, attend seminars and do courses that will build your knowledge, skills and abilities.

Market yourself. Make full use of every opportunity to sell yourself. If you’ve got it, flaunt it and don’t wait quietly for someone to acknowledge you. Make sure that you demonstrate your ability to hold a higher position with flair and confidence. Also, show how your past achievements have contributed to the growth of the organization. When it comes down to the selection process, make sure to put your best foot forward, just like you did when you were first hired.

Get networking right. If you want to fly like an eagle, then you have to stop taking lessons from chickens. Avoid co-workers and people that will pull you down through negative talk, and fill you with frustration over your desire to get a promotion. Associating with winners will fill you with a positive outlook on life and your career opportunities. Surround yourself with people that are success-oriented, and will encourage you to take the big leap forward towards a promotion.

Make yourself outstanding. There’s no doubt that polish and presence are critical ingredients for a promotion. Be open to new inputs and ideas. Become an expert in your field. Write articles or a book. Develop a dress sense that shows you are headed for the top.

Positioning yourself for a promotion at its most fundamental is an inside job. It’s a matter of finding what you want, and expressing that essence and character in everything you do. With hard work and an effective strategy, you can raise your stakes to get a promotion. So don’t let anything stop you.