Change is Inevitable, Growth is Optional

A few years ago a national magazine asked me to comment on changes we see in today’s marketplace.  Specifically, they asked me to define the word ‘Reinvention’ as it applies to career change.

Interestingly, ‘Reinvention’ is a word that leads a person to believe that it is possible to create a completely new you.  While that may be possible, it is exceptionally unlikely.  Anyone who has children knows that when a child is born it is hardwired to think and act in certain ways.  As we grow and learn, we can temper our natural tendencies and refine our instinctual reaction to the world, but fundamentally, the way we think normally remains constant.

So what does ‘reinvention’ really mean when applied to career change?  Reinvention means recognizing the new realities then changing belief system to reflect the new reality. As our belief system changes, the way we interpret the world around us evolves and we begin the ‘reinvention’ process.

The single largest change in corporate reality is the destruction of the concept of ‘tenure’.  Forty years ago, the average manager or higher level employee survived 28 years before retiring, quitting or moving on – often with a pension.  According to Right Management, today the average manager or higher level employee survives 3.5 years and is given no long term benefits.  This is a significant change in our reality.  Recognizing that reality requires we change our belief system regarding the corporate/employee relationship and, in essence, reinvent ourselves.

Today, chances are exceptionally high that you will not be an ’employee for life’ with a company.  You are going to be many things during your life and will have many ‘careers’.  The old way of defining our self no longer works.  We can no longer say, ‘I am going to be an IBM employee’ and leave it at that.  Today, the first step in reinventing ourselves is to recognize that we are ALL entrepreneurs.  You are an independent contractor who is selling your time, expertise, and efforts to a company.  Once the need for your skills is finished, it will be time to move on.

In many ways this is the same lesson that we learned when we read ‘Who Moved My Cheese’.  Keep your running shoes around your neck and get ready to find the next pile of cheese.  To some this is scary.  To others it is liberating.  We are no long trapped by what we have done in the past.  Today, we can reinvent our self and have fun doing it.

John Maxwell said – “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional”.  Reinvention is about listening to what nature is showing us and reacting in a way that shows we are learning and growing.