Embrace change – but always stand for something
August 12, 2013 | 12:09 am| | | Start Conversation
Change is ubiquitous in most facets of our lives. Just in terms of employment, we will most likely change jobs more often throughout our careers than we expect. In a recent study, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the average American born between 1957 and 1964 held 11 jobs between the ages of 18 and 46 – that’s a new boss every 2.5 years. So how can you take advantage of such a rapidly changing world? You
shouldn’t set your career path in stone, or else you’ll be vulnerable to external events beyond your control. At the same time, if you blow whichever way the wind does, you’ll just get blown over. So how do you embrace change, while still standing for something? Embracing change Maximize your options at every step of your career so that you’re ready to react to whatever the world throws at you. Be proactive.
At your current workplace, look for untapped growth opportunities within your organization. Can you expand the customer base? Or use cloud computing in a new way? And get comfortable with uncertainty. No matter your current line of work, you can make smarter decisions by recognizing that the future is inherently unknowable.
Standing for something Although change pervades our world, two principles have remained the same over the centuries: economic fundamentals and personal integrity. In very generation, a group of companies seems to ignore the basic economic truth of profit and loss. In the late 1990s, it was the dot-com companies, many of which went out of business.
Today, a handful of social media firms may meet the same fate. While growing revenues and alluring ideas might capture the public’s interest, ultimately businesses can only survive if they turn a profit. Similarly, your friends, colleagues, employers and customers will always put a high premium on your integrity and your reputation.
Warren Buffett was right when he said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation, and five minutes to ruin it.’’ It’s absolutely critical that you establish a clear code of ethics early on. In sum, be prepared to learn new skills, take advantage of new trends and adapt to unforeseen crises – if you don’t, you’ll be left behind. But never lose focus on economic fundamentals and your own personal integrity.
(Robert C. Pozen is a senior lecturer of business administration at Harvard Business School. His latest book is “Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours.’’)
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