spark your careerHave you been in the same job, role, organization or career for a long time? The chances of that occurring in the future are diminishing by the year. You are likely to move jobs and careers more regularly and work under different forms of employment. The real-life Transformers are coming in the form of robotics and artificial intelligence changing what people do for a living beyond recognition. Scary, exciting or ‘it won’t affect me’?

There’s an old story about being on a burning platform as a metaphor for the imperative to change. The Chairman of Nokia used it when the mobile giant fell from grace a couple of years ago. Imagine being on an oil platform at sea. You wake up one morning to the sound of an explosion and everything is on fire. You scramble blindly through the flames, heat and smoke to the platform’s edge. All you can see are the dark, cold and wild waves below.

You have a choice on that burning platform – stay and be burned to death and overcome by smoke; or jump into the icy waters where you may survive and be rescued. No one would ordinarily jump from an oil platform into a dangerous sea. It’s a radical change of behaviour to jump because the situation is extraordinary. As the Nokia Chairman put it to his employees at the time talking about the challenges facing the company:

“We too, are standing on a ‘burning platform’, and we must decide how we are going to change our behavior.”

In a career context, you can nip that difficult choice in the bud before the metaphorical explosion occurs. Could you jump before you don’t have a choice? What would that be like? The differences can be stark:

  • You seize opportunities rather than miss or reject them.
  • The change you make is within your control, you own the conditions and set the criteria that is way less unpleasant.
  • You own the decision rather than it being in the hands of others who can simply make you jump when and how they choose.
  • You can choose to adopt a mindset towards something you want rather than away from something you dislike.
  • You can create your own burning platform by doing something radical (like quitting your job).

These options are not to be taken lightly. Here are 7 steps to frame your thinking and actions:

  • Reflect on and identify your transferrable skills and experience.
  • Explore alternative job types, work environments and career directions.
  • Research viable and realistic options for your current personal circumstances.
  • Plan the specific steps to make your leap.
  • Position yourself in your chosen field or direction.
  • Attract employers and possibilities (rather than push yourself on them).
  • Convert an opportunity into a reality. 

Are you ready to learn to leap rather than leap without learning?

“Sometimes you get the best light from a burning bridge” – Don Henley, The Eagles

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