I know what you’re thinking! “Please, not another Covid19 motivational speech!”. Maybe that’s not what you thought at all. It could be that you are one of those fortunate people who are ahead of the curve and constantly reviewing your offering against the backdrop of where the world of work is heading.
Ok, sorry, I am going to make reference to the pandemic after all, but only because it is the cause of an acceleration that we were not expecting. Way before Covid19 the futurist talk was all about The Fourth Industrial Revolution
An article published by the World Economic Forum provides a punchy summation: “The Fourth Industrial Revolution represents a fundamental change in the way we live, work and relate to one another. It is a new chapter in human development, enabled by extraordinary technology advances commensurate with those of the first, second and third industrial revolutions. These advances are merging the physical, digital and biological worlds in ways that create both huge promise and potential peril. The speed, breadth and depth of this revolution is forcing us to rethink how countries develop, how organisations create value and even what it means to be human.” Ouch!
If you weren’t thinking about reinventing yourself before reading that, then now is the time to begin. So, back to the headline.
If, for any reason, you are under pressure to reinvent your career you are probably experiencing one or several of the following conditions:
a fear that you are out of step with the most current tech trends, other than your Facebook or Youtube channel which you’ve used primarily to find funny video clips
in a panic because you can’t remember your LinkedIn password and desperately need to build up your network
experiencing that old, familiar, self doubt that you had managed to bury under the security of your last job, which is about to end
no longer qualify as the “bright, young mind”
regret having burnt a couple of bridges with past colleagues or clients who now appear to be in “positions of influence”
are now noticing how many familiar faces appear to be in the same situation but ahead of you in the race to build a new career/ job/ business
are worried because you just don’t have the time to go back to university to pursue a whole new qualification
The first thing you have to do is stop! No, don’t stop reinventing, just stop the panicked thinking. There is good news ahead.
We all carry baggage! And I am going to share with you how you can use this as a reinvention aide.
In my bespoke coaching programme of Building a Personal Brand the very first step is to conduct a “brand review”. This is something you can do right now and is an exercise you can repeat every time you need to refine the direction you are taking.
You need to dig around in your treasure chest of past experience and unpack everything into two piles:
One is your formal experience. This is the “stuff” that you usually work into your CV. But write down everything. That course on tree identification? Write it down! The three months that you worked your way around Europe? Write it down. Let’s call these your hard assets.
The second pile is made up of the stuff you probably love doing but could never pay the bills. Golf, running, gym-bunny? Karaoke? Pole dancing? Are you an amateur comedienne? Aspiring Magician? (Although this could be a side gig). Write it all down. The fun here is that you don’t have to be proficient. Let’s call these your soft assets.
Now sit back and consider how you can extract a combination of these features into a brand new package that you can use to secure that new position you are after or to motivate an investor to approve your start up loan.
In all honesty it takes more than this one exercise. But the truth is that sometimes it takes extreme circumstances to encourage us to rewind and remind ourselves of how much experience we have accumulated over the years, and how they are truly brand assets. And the soft skills are becoming increasingly recognised by talent managers as equally important to the “old” version of skills.
One of the best examples of using a soft asset to promote a personal brand vision was an Executive coaching client of mine who worked in a large corporation. He was on his way up the C-suite ladder and we were working on repackaging his brand for this purpose. One of his soft skills was motorbike riding. Big bike. More specifically a beautiful, red Ducati that he bought himself for his 30th birthday. You wouldn’t catch me on it in a million years! He was about to brush past this skill (I guess because he thought I would be bored) when I encouraged him to unpack this hobby. The fact was that he participated in competitive racing and when we expanded on the detail of what it takes to be able to do this we discovered that it was the perfect material to illustrate that he possessed superb leadership skills.
Let me share a few examples. You can’t just jump on the bike. It requires a detailed knowledge of mechanics and dedicated discipline to maintain this powerful machine. The racing itself demands a balance between risk and responsibility. If you’re too cautious you will never win. If you push too hard, too fast, you can break every bone in your body and destroy the bike. Being an accepted member of the racing community is important and you are expected to do your part and proof of your authenticity is tested every weekend, on and off the track.
What began as a throw away reference to a hobby was crafted into a central part of his motivation for promotion. One that would leave a memorable image in the minds of the recruiting team!
So before you shrug off your past experience, your hobbies, the passion that got you into career in the first place, take a deep breath, block out panic voices in your head, sit down at your keyboard and start unpacking your baggage as the first step to a whole new journey.