Two Factors That Will Put You In The Driver’s Seat Of Your Career

I (Jess) read an article in the Weekend Australian called Future Shocks describing 12 future technologies linked to ‘the fourth industrial revolution’ that it is predicted we’re about to encounter. I had only heard of three of them! I could barely even understand the description of what ‘ubiquitous linked sensors’ and ‘blockchain and distributed ledger’ technologies were. The feeling that life is getting out of control and that we’re moving into a world where driverless cars and virtual doctors/lawyers are going to be normal, can lead to an utter confusion as to how and where I will fit.  What if I don’t know how to code?

While most conversations in this area talk about the chaos and uncertainty this causes, there is also another story. The story of great opportunity – the opportunity to have more autonomy, more flexibility and to be part of a huge global technological boom.  Rewards come from getting down and dirty with the task of creating the life and career you want for yourself. It has never been easier to start your own business, to retrain or work remotely. Research by McCrindle suggests that young people today will experience 15 jobs and 5 different careers*. This is an example of the interesting paradox of work today. While the diversity of work experiences and industries you will encounter is unprecedented and exciting for some, it can also feel precarious and uncertain for those hoping for a little more certainty and stability. So what can you hang your hat on? What is a constant in the changing world?

The answer is you. More so now than ever it’s up to you to manage your career and your life. With all of these new choices and changes, where do you focus your energy and attention? You can’t control industrial shifts, the jobs that are available or how your company is going to restructure, so where is your energy and attention best focused? As I collect and analyse literature and research on how people thrive in today’s job market, two influential factors that are in your control stand out.

These are that your mindsets and skill sets are your greatest GROWING and EVOLVING resources!

This might not seem revolutionary, but too often we leave these two controllable factors to chance, depending on schools and employers to skill us up and our mindsets to develop naturally. Alongside this, we spend excessive hours and energy focusing on things beyond our control.

Taking back a little certainty in your career can be as simple as bringing the focus back to where and how you can grow adaptable mindsets and skill sets.

Your Mindsets

Your Mindsets = the attitudes you typically hold which filter how you see the World

Your mindsets are hugely significant as they infiltrate all aspects of your life. Every decision, action, relationship, learning or behaviour is influenced by these deep grooves of thinking. The recurrent impact of these habitual perspectives makes them fertile ground for potential life changers. When it comes to your work they are also deal breakers. More jobs than ever are seeking cognitive skills fostered through your mindsets. Big data analysis by The Foundation of Young Australians of 4.2 million job searches showed a huge growth in the proportion of jobs seeking skills founded in your mindsets including:

  • 158% more requests for critical thinking
  • 65% more requests for creativity
  • 47% more requests for listening
  • 42% more requests for strategic thinking
  • 33% more requests for self starters
  • 26% more requests for problem solving **

Employers are increasingly valuing not just your technical skills or credentials but also how you think and relate to others. The best part of this is that these are skills you can build everyday and often for free. Let’s explore two mindsets that you can cultivate that will hugely impact your career.   

The Growth Mindset 

Coined by psychologist Carol Dweck, a Growth Mindset is the belief that you have the ability to learn and develop new skills. This is also often called being a lifelong learner. A Growth Mindset acts like a domino in positively impacting other mindsets. This is in contrast to a Fixed Mindset, which considers skills and aptitudes to be genetic or static and has a negative domino effect on other mindsets. Do you believe your aptitudes are inherited or learnt? Believing you are able to learn and grow is a fundamental plank for growing your world and being able to adapt flexibly to changes. So it’s in your court and all that remains is enough motivation and a good plan.

Fixed Mindset

I believe that my (Intelligence, Personality, Character) is inherent and static. Locked-down or fixed. My potential is determined at birth. It doesn’t change. I:

avoid failure

desire to look smart

avoid challenges

stick to what I know

take feedback and criticism personally

Growth Mindset

I believe that my (Intelligence, Personality, Character) can be continuously developed. My true potential is unknown and unknowable. I:

desire continuous learning

confront uncertainties

embrace challenges

am not afraid to fail

take constructive feedback well

 

The Player Mindset

When a problem arises, do you typically see yourself as a victim of circumstance or of others’ actions or as a player with the ball in your court? Similar to a Growth Mindset, if you learn to take ownership of your attitudes, decisions and situations, you have the best chance of dealing with and learning from the things, good or bad, wonderful or terrible, that cross your path. Typical responses of a victim include: ‘it was her’ / ‘there was nothing I could do’ / ‘I feel as if the world is against me’. These responses close off the window for learning and wipe the victim’s hands clean of any obligation to act or learn. This is a missed opportunity. In contrast the player is always asking: “What is my role in this and what can I do about it?”

During his internment in four concentration camps, psychologist Viktor Frankl witnessed the most desperate and unimaginable circumstances and the way he and others handled them. Amidst the horror some uplifting signals stood out, like:

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread…  

leading to his Lightbulb:

“…They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.” 

This Lightbulb was a factor in Frankl’s survival and foundational in his approach to psychological healing, as described in his book “Man’s search for meaning.”

At times you might feel like a victim, with no positive way to see the situation. Take a step back, examine your role in the situation as objectively as you can, and there will be a chance to step up and be a player. 

How Can I Shift My Mindset?

Humans aren’t perfect or fixed in their ways. As works in progress it is up to each person to create a system in which we check in with ourselves to see what mindsets we are feeding through our thoughts, actions and reactions. It is through this process that we can forge our own deliberate individual neural pathways. So what are some of the key questions you can ask yourself?

What are the mindsets that are running my life right now? Am I:

  • Pessimistic or optimistic?
  • Apathetic or enthusiastic?
  • Close-minded or open-minded?
  • Rushed and stressed or calm?
  • Judgemental or non-judgmental? 
  • Individualistic or collaborative? 
  • Fighting to stay in a comfort zone or willing to take measured risks?
  • Afraid of being wrong or willing to be wrong and learn?
  • In conversation focused on talking or in conversation focused on learning? 

Alongside this, ask yourself:

  1.  Is there a mindset I could cultivate that would drastically change you my life and career prospects? Hint: your ability and love of learning is a key to changing the game.
  2. What mindsets would I like to work on strengthening and where can I find opportunities to practice that in my everyday life?
  3. Are some mindsets easier to change than others and are they worth focusing on first?
  4. Are there any hurtful mindsets that I can’t seem to kick? Can I fight fire with fire and work on strengthening the opposite mindset?
  5. (After picking one mindset and committing to work on it for a week)  How has thinking actively about that mindset shifted how I think and behave? 
 

 

Your Skill Sets

Think of your skill sets is like a giant basket that is continually expanding and shrinking over your life. In it you will collect:

  • Foundational skills of learning, reading, writing, communication, numeracy and digital literacy
  • Technical skills relate to a specific task, role or industry. These often involve licenses, certificates and degrees, but can also be learnt on the job.
  • Enterprising or soft skills that are transferable and often learnt through social and environmental interaction. One simple system that breaks these skills down is the Six C Model of critical thinking, communication, collaboration, connectivity, creative and culture.
  • Career management skills of self-awareness, decision-making to build your career, job-seeking, use of career services/information, life long learning and work-life balance. 
Source: Soft Skills needed for the 21st century workforce - the six C's.  https://infogr.am/the-6-cs-of-education-for-the-21st-century

Source: Soft Skills needed for the 21st century workforce - the six C's.  https://infogr.am/the-6-cs-of-education-for-the-21st-century

In school we traditionally focus on foundational and technical skills, but global research ** is strongly in agreement that, if you want to be prepared for the future, developing your enterprising skills should also not be left to chance. A 2015 study called The New Basics has estimated that the future will demand 70% more enterprise skills and that jobs requiring these skills will also pay more***. Today this can be seen with jobs that request presentation skills paying an additional $8,853 dollars per year, problem solving an additional $7,745, financial literacy $5,224 and creativity an additional #3,129 ***. The most amazing part of these skills is that they can be cultivated every day if we are deliberate in seeking out opportunities to learn. Every conversation is an opportunity to learn and improve your skills, every budgeting question a chance to improve your financial literacy.

The next step in making the most of your skills (and the often overlooked part) is learning to communicate that you have these skills. It is really easy to breeze over or forget some of your most vital and valuable skills. The following exercise can be done with any of the above skills (technical, foundational), but first let’s focus our energy on the big-paying enterprise skills.  

This is a great exercise to help you to source and identify your enterprise skills. Using a table similar to below think of a time when you have demonstrated that skill. If you can’t think of a time, ask for help from someone who believes in you and your potential. 

This list is often where we stop. Don’t! Now that you know you have some ability in the skill take the time to articulate just how much value you create with this skill. That is where the STAR method comes in. This method is helpful in a whole range of employment contexts (interviews, cover letters, etc) and it’s also really helpful as an antidote to the uncertainty or fear that you won’t be able to adapt to the changing world. In a simple but detailed way put each of the above situations that you listed through the following questions:

  • What was the SITUATION?
  • What was the TASK you performed?
  • What was the ACTION you took?
  • What was the RESULT you created? Be specific!

When you look at these examples what we hope you see is the enormous value that your broad range of experiences can bring to your employability. Everyday is an opportunity to grow your skill basket, especially when it comes to those valuable and transferable soft/enterprise skills. It is not just on the job we learn, but through the diversity of experiences we have in life! 

In a career planning context focusing on skill development is an interesting and flexible approach. As stated by New Basics Report,

 “Rather than choosing an occupation with an unbroken path to seniority, a young person could think about developing a portfolio of skills that opens doors to a group or ‘cluster’ of jobs.”

The clusters that have been created using millions of job advertisements include: 

FYA (2015). The New Work Mindset. 

FYA (2015). The New Work Mindset. 

The amazing thing about these clusters is that the roles within them regularly require similar skills that are portable across jobs. This is estimated to mean that if you train or work in 1 job, you acquire the skills for 13 others jobs – a great bang for your buck! This perspective on skill building as opposed to picking an occupation for life is a great strategic way to navigate the changing job market. It also gives you a focus on building related skills that can create a wide range of employment options over the long term.

Source: FYA (2015). The New Work Mindset.

Source: FYA (2015). The New Work Mindset.

The Foundation for Young Australians report is a ‘must read’ for all ages. It gives a refreshing perspective on a whole range of job search questions. From insights into securing early career opportunities, how you can build your skill set based on your interests and how that can open doorways to a broader range of career pathways through focusing on building your skills. Click on the below link to be forwarded onto the report. 

It's a brave new world we are living in and the mindsets and skill sets we create will be the driving forces in determining the opportunities that come knocking. Learning to manage your career will offer the chance to generate a more enjoyable, meaningful, impactful and successful road ahead. Can you plan some time out each week to focus on your skill sets and mindsets?

What is one deliberate action you can take this week to positively influence one mindset and skillset? Can you write a February plan that you read each morning when you wake up to direct your energy and attention towards achieving this?

Jess’s February Mindset and Skill Set Plan =

  • Mindset = to create a regular meditation practice to improve my attention and spaciousness in each moment
  • Skill set = my understanding of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its relationship to STEM career pathways   

Ian’s February Mindset and Skill Set Plan =

  • Mindset = to be less rushed and thereby to be able to focus better on my and others’ emotions
  • Skill set = my understanding and experience in building online communities

We would love to hear yours!

Our next blog will be in March when Jess is back from cycling Vietnam. Thanks for taking the time out to read this and enjoy your week!


References

* Mccrindle. (2014). Job Mobility in Australia. Retrieved online: http://mccrindle.com.au/the-mccrindle-blog/job-mobility-in-australia 

** Regional Australia Institute/NBN. (2016). The Future of Work: Setting Kids up for Success. 

*** Foundation of Young Australians (FYA). (2015). The New Work Mindset.