There is not one right career philosophy. Each of us needs to find an approach that fits us. I want to share my approach – When in Doubt, Opt for Change – not simply because I am familiar with it, but also because I think it may be misunderstood and therefore, under-represented.
Concisely, when people encounter a decision point, they have choices – usually two. If one choice is clearly better than the other, we all choose the better choice. When it’s not clear which choice is better, most of us gather as much information as possible before a decision needs to be made, until one choice is clearly the best. In some cases, after gathering the information available, it’s still not clear which choice makes the best sense. When faced with this ambiguity, most people simply choose the status quo, and stay with what they have. At the start of my career I adopted a philosophy to push myself out of the status quo comfort zone, and when I was in doubt about which choice was best, opt for change rather than stagnation.
Baseball provides a good metaphor for my career management philosophy Getting your first job is like getting to first base. Some people, incorrectly assume if they keep their foot on first they will remain safe. It’s simply not true, in baseball or a career. Keeping your foot on first is likely to get you forced out, in baseball, and in your job. The game keeps moving even if you don’t. There are times you are going to get forced out no matter what you do; and there are times the guy behind you will hit a home run and you will be carried home safely without any further effort on your part. But most of the time, being nimble, playing smart, and taking reasonable risks will advance your career more than abdicating influence over your career, and just waiting for someone else to do something for you. It’s true that you can’t get picked off if you stand on first base, and it is equally true that you can’t steal second with your foot on first. But the most important truth is that having a good lead, and moving as the ball is hit is the best way to advance to second, and in your career.
Opt for Change is a blog about taking an active role in your career. It will provide many first hand experiences and observations, but not advice, just the benefit of my experience. You’ll have to figure out what of it makes sense for you and your personality.