Climb career mountains but return safe

By Prabir Jha

One of the biggest myths for career seekers is their belief that it is an easy linear slope. This is the reason many struggle with some career plateaus. Some are surprised with sudden career cliffs; others are scared of the stiff heights of career hills. Career building in today’s world of turbulence and opportunity is more like adventure sport. Exhilarating and scary, possibly at the same step. You need to be spirited and yet you must avoid missteps. That is how new age careers will need to be – a series of experiences, the ups and the downs, the moments of high and the moments of low. The one who will understand this, prepare for this and, most of all, goes ahead to do it will be the one who will script a successful career.

Anyone who dreams of a career must have the energy and the passion to nurture one. Just having an education qualification or some prior experience is not it. It is the hunger to excel, to take chances, to make every indifferent opportunity a trailblazing experience. It is about infinite optimism to win. It is the tenacity to persevere. You need to have the career adrenaline.

The journey is exacting. There are phases of stretch and stress – physical, mental and emotional. You get exposed to negative influences and infected with the virus of cynicism. To ensure you stay strong and healthy on this exciting adventure you need to supplement your diet with additional nutrition. Special skills, rotation to different experiences, coaching, feedback, stretch projects, peer feedback – these help add that extra strength to a fundamentally good mind and body. They keep you agile, alert and well-sinewed.

Many of us strain ourselves, even enjoying that style, to perform, stretch and deliver always. While this is the adrenaline pumping and is wonderful, it is equally important to slow down at times. Take a break. A sabbatical. It is a phase to pause and reflect. Ask some fundamental questions about our purpose of life and doing. Reinforce beliefs. Repudiate myths and illusions. This is a time of rest and recovery. It may seem to be a plateau but has ahuge value for us.

Careers have their highs and lows. There are giant boulders intimidating us. There are the loose rocks that can also become precipitous. You need to tread carefully -sometimes trusting your own instinct, at other times, connected and supported by fellow rock climbers. There is the need to give and take. It is foolish to assume, we can scale all the peaks all alone. Choosing the right set of fellow climbers is key. Each brings a strength that helps us move forward, safely but surely. We need to select right and trust right. Enabled by individual capability and powered by the safety norms of the collective. The instinct to trust, collaborate and encourage each other makes for successful climbing. This could be the difference to reaching the peak or falling to depths.

The peak is not always the most exciting moment of the expedition. It is more a metaphor for closure. There are many moments along the way that may be more demanding, exciting and fulfilling. We must learn to celebrate these exciting moments as much. Otherwise, waiting to celebrate only at the peak will make the trek up tedious and, possibly, uninspiring.

Once you are up on the point that you dreamt about, soak in your achievement. And then open your eyes and look down. You also have to get back from where you started. Success can leave you isolated and lonely. Perched high above, with no one to celebrate with, can ironically be depressive. The ability and willingness to carefully climb down from this high is not one that every peak conqueror has. This is equally treacherous and threatening. Sometime going up may seem easier than going down. This is where our true character and prowess may be tested.