Thrive on Shift & Change
by: Mary Foley
“Bodacious” means to be bold, outstanding, and remarkable. Take those attributes to work and you’re on your way to building a fulfilling, bodacious career. Does having a bodacious career sound exciting to you? It is! After starting as an $8 an hour customer service rep, I rose through the ranks of AOL, accepting four promotions and surviving over six layoffs to become the head of corporate training for 12,000 employees. Along the way I learned I needed to be bodacious to achieve the career I wanted. Out of that experience I created my “cheat sheet” of ten essential Bodacious Career Builders. Here’s number seven: Thrive on Shift and Change.
At AOL, my entire career was about rapid shift and change. For the first seven years, I was totally focused on the call center. I was promoted from customer service rep to trainer to training manager and then to call center manager. Soon other areas of my life – namely one last-ditch effort to save my marriage after a year’s separation – demanded that I make a major change. I needed to shift some of the energy I was dedicating to AOL into reviving my marriage
I considered leaving the company altogether, but that seemed too drastic. So I started looking around the company to see where else I might be able to offer value. After 10 years and more than 1200 employees, the company still had no management training program and the new human resources VP was looking for a corporate training manager.
I knew I could help in developing and influencing this group of contributors. I thought I could have a greater impact throughout the organization and remove myself from the pressure-cooker atmosphere of the call center. Instead of ten- to twelve-hour days, maybe I could reduce it to eight or nine.
I didn’t wait until I saw a job posting. I took the initiative and contacted the VP Although I was motivated to make a change for personal reasons, I emphasized to him my desire to help build the company from the inside out by quickly developing skilled managers. I didn’t want him to know about my personal life, partly because it wasn’t his concern but also because I wanted to maintain my reputation for being competent, efficient, and successful. So, courage in hand, I asked for a new role. Within a few days he made me a job offer; corporate training manager. My burgeoning Bodacious Career took another turn.
>From this experience and countless others, I gained a few ideas about dealing with change. Consider these for your own Bodacious Career.
As you thrive on shift and change, expect some initial discomfort. Old weaknesses and insecurities that you managed to efficiently camouflage in the old systems suddenly make themselves obvious again. The stress of change can lower your immunity system and cause you to catch the flu, a cold or a case of hives. You may temporarily feel like a mess.
Learn to lead with your value. Trust that you can be resourceful. As you research options, look beneath the surface. The alchemy of your passions, combined with external needs may create an opportunity for you that hadn’t existed before.
Get outside perspective whenever you can. You may not know how good you really are until you leave your fishbowl. When we’re sealed up in our own environment, working hard, and focusing on the tasks immediately in front of us, we can lose perspective. So get out there! You may discover that you are further ahead than you thought.
Shifting and changing may cause you to go through some major culture shocks and climate changes. As with every alteration in your life you create or any alteration that comes you way (let’s face it, some events are out of your hands), you may feel alien to your new circumstances. Don’t worry, you’ll grow into them. Soon you’ll be more than surviving, you’ll be thriving!
BODACIOUS CAREER BUILDER #7: Be honest about how you handle change in your career and life; make a commitment to thrive, not just survive.
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