Max Levchin, the co-founder of PayPal, has shared his thoughts on the startup market during the current crisis. Max says that “this is the time to hunker down, go 10,000 feet below ground and build something truly amazing”.
This also applies to your career. This is the time to get prepared!
While I was thinking of how to “hunker down and build something amazing”, I read an article on Harvard Business Review (HBR) about preparing your business for a post-pandemic world.
Yes, both articles are about business…
Your career is already your business!
Paraphrasing all those authors, this is the time to hunker down, go 10,000 feet bellow ground, and strategically build a truly amazing career.
Take out your preferred note-taking device, and together we will create YOUR strategy for a truly amazing career!
In the HBR article, Carsten Pedersen and Thomas Ritter propose a 5 Ps framework for strategic planning: Position, Plan, Perspective, Projects, and Preparedness.
Let’s apply those principles to our careers.
I know this is a bit cliche…
But just reading this post will do nothing for your career.
You need to spend time answering the questions below.
You will build something truly amazing!
The best way to grow your career is to put yourself in a position of trust. To become what we call a “trusted advisor” for someone.
A trusted advisor is the person we call when we have a problem. When we need to make a decision.
When people trust you BEFORE they need you, they will call YOU when they need the help you can provide.
When you are a trusted advisor, people will call you for great positions FIRST (lower or even no competition), because they trust you.
This is true for positioning yourself for a new job, a new position in your company, leading a team, consulting, freelancing, speaking, and much more.
And… The best way to become a trusted advisor is to help people. People that you help, will see you as a person that can be trusted on that topic.
How can you help others? What knowledge you have, things you like, or experiences you live, that could be helpful to others?
How can you use your time now to help them? Can you create content (articles, videos, emails), answer questions, mentor, or teach something to someone?
How can you be a trusted advisor in your area? What are challenges, problems or frustrations people have in your field of work, or on your city or company, that you could help them with?
What positions would you like to reach after things go back to a more normal life?
Who can you help, that would get you closer to the position you are looking for? If you want to become a Java developer working with Cloud Computing, helping other Java developers to learn Cloud Computing can be a great way to create trust.
What position of trust can you create for yourself now, maybe with friends and family, in your company, or online in social media, that would take you closer to what you want?
Every crisis creates a level of uncertainty that is hard to cope with. The fact that this pandemic is worldwide, the uncertainty gets close to unbearable.
The fear comes from the real possibility of losing a job, reduced income, getting sick. Not to mention the potential for the widespread economic disaster that can affect others in your family, and create difficulties even if it does not affect your job or position.
Maybe all is good for you now, but it may not be soon… And that’s scary!
You need a plan.
Imagine for a few minutes the worst problems. You losing your job. Others in your family having problems. Your customers disappearing.
I know, it is a chilling thought… We try to shy away from it. But it’s important to consider the possibilities, to have a plan to bounce back.
If it helps, consider small increments of hardship, by imagining different scenarios, in increasing orders of difficulties.
Now… Create a plan to bounce back from those scenarios!
For each scenario, how can you deal with the situation?
How can you use your time to be ready, better, improved?
What are the skills you can work on now, that will help you later?
What are the resources you can use to invest in yourself now?
Are there habits and routines you can start building right away that will be useful later?
Once you start to become a trusted advisor to people, your career identity will change. You will see yourself differently. The market will see you differently.
Now is a good time to think about this change and prepare yourself for it. You want to position yourself in a way that is comfortable and aligned with your values.
The most important thing to create this new identity is having a clear focus. Many people are afraid of focusing because we tend to be afraid of missing things.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Focus is not about choosing (or ignoring) the technologies or the amazing tools that came out at a fast pace in our industry.
Focus is about choosing the most important problems we want to solve!
And, solving problems is the best way to help people.
Now is the perfect time to imagine who you will become, what identity you want to create for your career. What is the biggest problem you want to be respected for solving?
What type of problems are you interested in solving? Be specific.
What results can you bring for your company and others?
What results can you help other developers achieve?
Who do you need to become to solve those problems?
What skills and knowledge you need to acquire?
Who needs to know that you solve that?
Now that you have a better idea of who you want to become, the problems you want to solve, and the tranquility that you can overcome the worst scenarios, it’s time to use that clarity to take steps to advance your career.
Your objective is not to spend time learning a lot of things. Learning is not the goal: it is all about the skills.
And the best way to acquire the right skills is to do things. For us, as software developers, do projects.
This is the time to, based on the clarity you got, choose projects to launch or to participate, that will move you closer to your plans.
What small projects can you build that will give you the necessary skills?
How can you set a daily routine to work on those projects?
Can you join existing projects with others?
Open source projects?
Maybe this is a good moment to create a small product? You can do that solving someone’s real problem.
This is the time to execute your plan, and you need to make sure you are prepared.
Be honest with yourself.
Evaluate what you have and how ready you are. Identify what is missing.
Prepare yourself. Ask for help. Hire mentors or training if you need it.
Invest in yourself and your plan. If or when the problems caused by the pandemic hit, you will be prepared and will be way better off for being ready.
And… If the problems turn out to be smaller then you imagined… You will be MUCH better off and ready to go after even bigger goals!
What you have that is already enough for your plans?
Are there things you can improve so you are ready?
What is missing that you should prepare?
Do you need specific knowledge?
Any mentors you can contact?
Need some help or support?
Skills you need to build?
Training to attend?
With the 5 Ps, you are thinking strategically, and preparing yourself for the post-pandemic world.
Those that wait to see and have no plan will leave their careers to chance, and this may prove to be a risk that is not worth it.
But you, that made this exercise here, you are prepared and will come out of this situation better off.
None of this matters if you don’t take action on the plan and strategy that you just created.
And... Taking action is unbelievably hard! Especially when we're talking about plans for the future.
To help you, I'll give you a gift, a FREE copy of my new book:
This book will give you the tools for you to take action and create your best year!
(I'm giving it for free for a limited time. If you like it, I'd love it if you could leave a comment below about it!)
So... Where do YOU want to be once this pandemic is over? Share with us, and I'll help you achieve your goals!