Recently I heard a talk about the energy of money. The speaker said that money grows when it is watched, measured and tended. That may be true. But careers are more like “The watched pot never boils.”
Careers usually move more slowly than we would like.
They have an element of luck. I don’t care what anyone says: you can’t be totally strategic when you plan your career.
More than once I’ve taken a job where I was welcomed enthusiastically by my future boss. He (pr, more rarely, she) genuinely appreciated what I had to offer and was thrilled to hire me.
Then a new boss appeared. Sometimes I never got to work for the boss who hired me: he was already gone, leaving me as a legacy for the next boss, who had a totally different vision for my role. At other times the boss left 6 to 12 months later. Once I took a job (against the advice of a savvier friend) where the boss was going to be hired around the same time.
Military officers tell me this is the norm. If you don’t like your boss, just wait it out. He’ll be transferred or you’ll be transferred, hopefully with no damage to your career.
Still, luck plays a big part. When I had corporate jobs, I wished something would happen and I’d suddenly be asked to take on new responsibility. That never happened to me – but some people built a career this way. True, I might have blown the opportunity, but there is a saying that you look like a sergeant when you’ve got stripes on your sleeves. Once you’re promoted, you tend to look like you deserve it.
That’s why it’s a good idea to remain somewhat detached from your career. If you get too involved, you often miss the red flags and pass right by the subtle cues. You see the job as playing a game and you get a kick of out learning the rules. You detach your ego from success.
One way to do this is to have an outside interest that’s really compelling. For many people, it’s a family. For others it’s a hobby or fanaticism. Even getting a dog makes a big difference. I met an executive who walked away from Microsoft and started his own company because he hated being away from his new dog all day.