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More Useful Metaphors for Career

23 May 2022

The unique trait of humans (or Sapiens) is our ability to create and believe fiction.

Youval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind makes a strong case for imagination as the defining feature of humans.  It is the thing that has us stand apart from other animals.  It is also our imagination that pulls us forward into new career realities.  Through our skilled use of imagination we can set goals, have career strivings, see ourselves in the future, and help others see/imagine our potential.  In the words of Einstein: Imagination is more important than knowledge.  This is a superpower it is vital to engage in any flourishing career.  Let yourself imagine what career could look like, then take the tiny, day by day, steps in that direction.


We come to be by degrees.
For me there are two aspects of value about this saying for career.  The first is that there is no end to growth and development.  The process of coming to be is lifelong and is fuelled by a cycle of action and reflection - that is, do something, reflect upon it to take the learning that comes from doing it, then bring this learning to the next time you do it.  For some people the process of coming to be is a slow one, which is perfectly fine.  If you want this to be faster it requires speeding up of the action and reflection cycle, which is where a coach, mentor, sponsor, or good manager can help.

The second aspect of importance in this saying impacts the way people go about learning and developing themselves.  So often people seek big events as things to create change in them: a course, a new job, a new boss, etc...  In reality, these big events rarely live up to the hype we give them.  By degrees they move the dial, but as long you are present and open to them, so do many other much smaller things.  What really needs to happen is a continual focus on making the most of all experiences, wringing them dry for the meaning they can have.


Everything becomes a little different when it is spoken out loud.
Keeping your dreams, ideas, aspirations, hopes bottled up inside your head stymies their progress.  The potential you see for your career will wither and die in that black box if you don't let it out.  This can be onto paper or verbally.  When you get your ideas out it allows another portion of your brain to get to work on realising them.  Additionally verbalising your ideas helps you bring clarity to them, to see what is nonsense and what is worth doubling down on.

Additionally, examininglng the ideas that scare you by letting them out into the open gives you the chance to diminish their scariness.  Try this exercise with someone you trust: 

State a career dream you have
Have your trusted person ask you: What scares you most about this?
Share your answer
Then have your trusted person ask you: If that happened, then what?
Share your answer
Your trusted person then asks: If that happened, then what?
Continue till you hit the bottom
Then pair your career dream with the deepest fear you have about it.  Most of the time you will see that this fear is ridiculous.

What sayings, metaphors or quotes have helped you in your career?  Let me know for potential inclusion in the next version of this post.

As always, wishing you a flourishing career.


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