Play Your Career Like a Game of Chess

chessEarlier this week I spoke about the 3 signs that it's time of a much needed breakup in your career.  Then I made a promise I'd share a few learnings.  So here goes.

Breaking up can be hard to do.

I've been dumped on by a few, politely broken up, and most recently took the opportunity to stay good friends.  Long gone are the 35 year same-company careers that my parents and theirs were fortunate to hold.  The world is changing, the workforce is going through seismic shifts and breaking up or shaking it up isn't a bad thing anymore.  Before you decide to do anything, I recommend you create a clear strategy for your career.

Here are some key pieces I learned in the development of my own strategy.

Opportunity knocks for those who create it and know how to ask.

opportunityOpportunity only knocks when it's clear what you want, you have a built a credible village with the right people who can help you, and you've socialized your need.  These are BIG things.  Many of us can get stuck here for a while. In a world so full of noise, mindless busyness and rubbernecking,  how many people know what they truly want?  Do you?

Don't know what you're good at, lost or need a boost?  Take a career assessment and hire a coach.  If you want a referral, send me a note offline.

Perhaps you know what you want but you don't know how to ask.  If you don't ask, you don't get.    Don't know how to ask?  Make sure you have a mentor, or two who can give you sound advice.  (Thanks to all who've helped me with this one - you know who you are!)

Life changes and so does your path.  Know your story well.

I left LSU with a communications degree and have spent the last several years of my work focused on people, culture and organizational development in the oil and gas industry.  At 21, I was headed to work for one of the big ad agencies to manage big blue chip brands.

Fast forward and my story is a little different with a neat twist.  I help energy companies and their leaders manage risk, develop people and make them the operator of choice for suppliers, customers and shareholders.  And guess what?  The ad agencies are dinosaurs this gal is supper glad I moved to Texas. (See, Enron did produce some real results?!)

The point is change happens and it can create a neat story that connects you to your future.  Think about your story.  What is it?  Can you write it down?  Can you tell it?  

Play your career like a game of chess.  Make real moves (don't just take anything)!

A female CEO friend and mentor of mine once told me to "play your career like a game of chess"  She also told me to get out into the field and see the work and made sure I did.  She was right.  Playing chess assures you are thinking about the moves ahead and always looking at what the opportunities of today will create for tomorrow.  If I had not taken time to get real field experience, I would not have the story I've built today nor the foresight to think "chess" and play to win.

My dad says ... the world is your oyster.  Harvest your pearl.

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He's right.  Jobs no longer exist.  Our lives are a myriad of roles both at home at in our careers.  We have to be nimble in our ability to learn new skills, take risky assignments, but be niche in our craft.  The good news is...our fast moving always-on world has loads of opportunity.  It's up to us to harvest it.

Ask yourself. What do I offer?  What do people really need that set me apart from everyone else? Where are the dinosaur roles and where are the hot new skills?  How can I get to develop new skills and experiences to help me transition my next move?

Have any career tips or strategies to share?

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