We live in a complicated world, getting more complex all the time. I've come to believe that our best--really our ONLY--strategy for dealing with this on an individual basis is to look for career simplicity. How do we pare things down to the essentials so that we're able to focus and build on what really counts?
Beth Kanter had a great blog post a few years ago about the need for organizations to adopt a policy of simplicity in dealing with social media. I think this same strategy is necessary for our own career development. For Beth, simplicity boils down to:
- Identify the essential.
- Network the rest.
I think that these two ideas can also be used in our careers.
1. Identify the Essential
We start with ourselves. What are our core strengths and talents? When we are operating at our very best, doing the things that we feel passionate about and that feed our growth, what are we doing? What is our essential core?
We can't all be great at everything, so why bother? It's worth figuring out where and how we truly shine. Then we start looking for ways to build on those essentials, making ourselves even more amazing in those areas.
This means, of course, also having to let go of those things at which we are "good enough," but not great. It also means letting go of those activities that are meant to build up our "good enough" qualities. It's about identifying our chief assets and then doing what we can to build on and utilize those.
It's about understanding those essential strengths and looking at where they intersect with the opportunities before us.
2. Network the rest.
One person's greatest weakness is another person's greatest gift. Instead of constantly finding ways to shore up our weaknesses, how can we connect with others who may be able to complement us in the places where we are not strong? What networks can we form? How can we work with others who are focused on their own essential strengths so that we can do things that are even more amazing?
We live in a world where many of the "best" jobs are about adding value in new and innovative ways. The only way we can truly add value, though, is if we focus on those parts of ourselves that are the most valuable--knowing our essential strengths and building a career based on those. Paring down to the essentials may be our best strategy for thriving in an ever more complex world.