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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Your beliefs determine the actions you take in achieving your career goals

Some like to believe that they should spend their effort on developing their abilities or talent, while some believe in producing results. Let us pause for a minute and understand how these two beliefs can lead us in taking divergent actions. 

Input view of career ( what should I be?)

Input view of career lists down the key abilities/traits that will help one develop his/her talent.It helps a professional to understand the key abilities that he should built. This inside-out view is very popular among positive thinkers and self-help writers.

Every self-proclaimed self-help writer keeps on coming with his own list of input abilities and traits: Become self-aware, Be confident, Set priorities right, Be motivated, Learn to communicate, Follow your passion, Become Emotionally intelligent and so on. Some call the list as Seven Habits of success, others call it 3 Laws of success, while few name it as The secret of success. Everyone claims that his list of abilities/traits is more accurate than anyone else's list. You will find huge followers of every author supported by clever and robust marketing. Trainers join the bandwagon teaching these abilities to aspiring youngsters.

Input view of career has two big shortcomings:

One, this list of abilities/traits required to bring out your unique talent keeps on changing based on whose book you are reading. This view naively assumes that if you develop these 'abilities/traits', you can achieve anything in your career. And there is no criteria on which one can ever prove that one list is more 'right' than other list.

Two, these authors assume that this list of abilities/traits can be developed by anyone, at any age. It has been discovered now that this is no more valid. Some abilities like confidence are contextual and therefore cannot be 'developed artificially'. Some, like communication, look easier to develop but require too much of preparation. Some, like self regulation, can be developed at young age like learning a bike. Some , like self awareness, require age to develop. Some, like emotional inteliigence, can be 'naturally' developed by parents but very difficult to develop on your own.

Because anyone can 'list the best combination of abilities/traits', there are millions of books that have printed a big list of 'abilities and traits' that will carry us to our destiny. All these suggestions are well-meaning, but do not help. When it produces desired output, it is more by chance. 

Output view of career ( what can i do) or Result oriented view

Result-oriented view is outside-in view of career. It helps a professional to produce the results/outputs to achieve the desired goals. To produce these outputs, one may require a set of abilities which can be 'mobilised' either by oneself or through others. This view is more practical, because it makes us function at our best with our limited abilities.

As you can guess, sports professionals and music professionals use this result-oriented view to produce outstanding work-outputs in their work of sports and music respectively. In these single-dimensional professions where outputs have clear boundaries, this view of result works like magic.

Result-view is more useful for professionals, because it is far more practical to use one's given abilities and achieve what one desires with it. Isn't it more practical to achieve with what we have instead of trying to becoming a 'perfect' person?  If you see any successful person, you will always be surprised. You will notice that, despite his imperfections, weaknesses and shortcomings, he has managed to achieve something extraordinary. We know that only ordinary people achieve extraordinary results. 

Your actions in career are determined by these beliefs 

If you believe in Input-view of career, you will always keep on growing your abilities and virtues. For every problem in your life, you will find a solution inside you. If you cannot get a job raise, something is wrong with you. If your relationship is not working, you need to change something in you. If you feel stressful, you cannot manage your stress. If you cannot achieve your goals, your intentions are not honest. In other words, you will try to become a perfect human being who has huge willpower, extraordinary persistence and other virtues.

If however, you believe in result-view of career success, you will focus on the results. You will mobilise the requisite abilities from outside or from within. Instead of striving to become 'perfect human beings, you will focus on developing just 'enough abilities' so that time is better used to produce the desired results. For you, the key to succeeding in career is mobilising your abilities innovatively to achieve the desired results. You will believe that extraordinary results can be achieved without building extraordinary abilities.

Enlight framework is result-oriented view of career. Enlight framework assumes that our abilities unfold if we engage with the work. Unfolding is partly in our influence, but mostly out of our control. And more importantly, it is the synergy of our abilities that matters, not individual abilities. Otherwise, even our virtue like self-awareness can become a liability.

Do you believe that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary results ? What are your beliefs?  

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