Monday, July 27, 2009

It's Winter in July

Aesop's fable of the ant and the grasshopper still holds true – you better prepare for winter or you’re screwed. In case you haven’t noticed we are in an economic winter, my friends, and either you have prepared for it or you have not. It's really that simple.

These are difficult times - no doubt. With the economy the way it is, people will often feel fear and insecurity about their positions. If they've been laid off they may be concerned about when, or even if, they'll find another position.

Admittedly, sometimes being in the wrong place at the wrong time can result in losing one’s job. However, more often than not, the security we have at our current employer, and even the difference between having a job and not, is based on our present value-add to the organization. Your entire career has culminated to this point in time and the perception of your relative importance to the success of a team and organization is essentially set. It was built over the course of years both at this current position and every one before it.

I’ve been a solid ant for a number of years now. Unfortunately, I’ve had to learn hard lessons as a result of embracing my inner grasshopper. The repercussions of being cavalier about an important matter as the care and feeding of one’s career will eventually result in pain. Those grasshopper times, however painful, turned out OK for me and if you are experiencing a harsh winter it will likely be OK for you too. The trick is to constantly reflect on whether you are thinking like a grasshopper or an ant – and know and accept the consequences!

Over the course of a bunch of years I’ve come to realize that no one is entitled to anything. Everything you have and is dear to you is on the table. So have a vision, be pragmatic, take risks, and most certainly, be assertive with your career. If you do those things well you will not only best protect that which is now yours but you will grow as a person too.

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