Where is Your True North?

Located hundreds of miles south of the Geographic (or True) North Pole, you’ll find the North Magnetic Pole. Unlike True North (the set point where all longitude lines meet), the Magnetic North Pole is constantly on the move due to changes in the earth’s molten core. In fact, this pole has wandered about 685 miles within the last 150 years. Given that compasses are set to the Magnetic Pole, these shifts can impact navigation.

Clarity readers know that I stress the need to set a clear direction in managing a career; hence this data regarding the shifting pole begs these questions: What if my intended target moves? What if my “magnetic” environment doesn’t stay put? Does this mean I should remain open to all career possibilities?
Considering that the magnetic pole is a moving target, our usual counsel to “focus a career” might be open to discussion. In pondering this thought, it’s helpful to review conversations in two blog posts:

The historical perspective in Walking a Career Tightrope gives us an understanding of past cycles of services and markets; innovation and its lever on products, demographics and forecasts; and “wild cards” from geopolitics--all of which challenge ideas of how we plan for our futures. 

Yet, as noted in What's Your Line?, uncertainty is not an excuse for defaulting to a reactive approach to planning. Playing defense is not a positive strategy in any venture. Career management that is focused on what roles you want to play and where you want to play them is far less risky than projecting an elusive career message.

Career Management Requires a True North Position
While framed for the executive population, most Clarity articles have utility for anyone trying to manage a career. We all need to be leaders--whether of our personal directions, our families, the institutions we support or our own organizations. 

We all remain accountable to our audiences of families, bosses, customers, clients and fellow citizens. But nowhere will we find our audiences satisfied if our whole life/career plan is to react to what faces us rather than to anticipate needs and to behave as leaders guided by a True North-- day in and day out--whatever our occupations.

Understanding that career management is a personal responsibility, we handicap our leadership capabilities when we think and speak with shifting phrases such as:

·         I’m keeping all my options open

·         What’s the market like out there for someone like me?

·         What do you think I should do next?

·         I’m networking to learn “what is out there”

·         I’m a utility player. Look at where I used to be and what I used to do….I can do most anything!
It’s almost as though reactive career managers want other people to lead them out of the wilderness of uncertainty, or perhaps to get them on an “Extreme Makeover” show that will refit their career tactics for them. These reactive managers always seem to fear being voted off the latest “Survivor” show they joined. 

A personal career goal, mission, vocation (you choose the word), coupled with a well-informed strategy, directs each of us to our personal True North objectives. No matter which bearing we may choose toward our goal, and even if the pole moves, we will still be able to track with it.

Do you know people who react and shift their directions? Do you know others committed to their True North?  Pay attention to the differences between these two groups when you need to choose a leader or want to advance your own career progress.

Use your compass and follow the leaders.

“The successful warrior is the average man with laser-like focus.”  Bruce Lee