Do You Manage Your Career With Lines Or Chains?

Consider an abyss…a bottomless expanse. You are suspended over it, sustained by a web of connections with the people in your life. You are constantly connecting and disconnecting lines, but you succeed in maintaining your balancing act of relationships. If one line is severed, you may wobble; but you return to a state of equilibrium after a time.

Many years ago, Clarity offered an article about the inherent danger of looking down at the abyss with fear and thus compensating by being rigidly connected to a single line—holding on for dear life to employment at one organization.

As the Millennial generation takes hold in the workforce, this view is shifting. Throughout their lifetime, many Millennials will fluidly connect from one line of employment to others that fit with their values, priorities and ambitions—holding these qualities at a premium over a career tethered to one organization. This is the first generation that looks with anticipation rather than fear when it comes to career changes.

Chains of Steel
Yet, this way of thinking is very unsettling to those who consider their employment status-quo so paramount that the employment line turns into a steel chain that is bolted down for fear of being separated from the edge of the chasm. For these people, their other lines of relationships (family, boss, friends, colleagues, customers, etc.) appear like sewing threads.

Working within this mindset, the sheer weight of that anchored employment chain can be devastating if it becomes disconnected. Just picture yourself swinging down, rushing toward the cliff, tearing through other connections as you fall through the bottomless expanse.

No wonder there are so many shocked and distressed people among the suddenly unemployed!

Flexible Reinforcements
Now picture a scene where employment is merely one tether, held in balance among many others. These other lines sustain you as you discern how to connect to the next employment line; whether in a new position or in an entrepreneurial or other venture. Given this route, you can adjust to a sudden career change because you will find balance among your other relationship lines.

Hooks or Harness?
Let’s also look at how your various lines of relationships are attached. Are they connected to a harness that you elect to strap on, where you get to decide which network lines to attach and detach? Or, instead, do these lines have hooks in them that sink into you and won’t let go? Do certain lines take on more weight, tugging hard at you? When you step out of their balance, do you feel the pain? When it comes to hooks, it can often seem easier to choose to simply get used to them (workplace, relationships, etc.) and accept them as your fate. That is an unfortunate way of thinking.

Along your career path as well as within life’s full journey, it is important to take a posture where no single connective relationship is held by neither chain nor hook. This allows you to manage the balance over your abyss proactively by determining which lines to maintain and which need to be disconnected.

By choosing to connect to lines rather than chains, when pressure or random adversity arrives, you will always have a supportive web of positive connections ready to help return you to equilibrium.

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.”
Hermann Hesse

*Image courtesy of "tor00722" at