CareerSherpas: Climbing the Mountain

When you’re on the way, it helps to share the load

Archive for September, 2011

Knowledge is Power Only When Shared

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

“Knowledge is power.” – attributed to Sir Francis Bacon

This week I got pretty animated sharing process patterns of the industry I work in. It’s not the most exciting topic, but it’s the baseline of what we do.

Frankly, if you aren’t working in the area it’s one of the most boring topics imaginable.

That being said, if you don’t realize that there are natural patterns to it you’re at a disadvantage. Knowing the basic building blocks gives context to make all the other work make sense. Without it you have to reinvent the wheel if you want to get anything done.

This experience got me thinking about how people use knowledge. The only way to increase knowledge is to share it or have it shared. The more knowledge is shared, the more tools people have. The more tools people have, the more open we all are to new ideas and new opportunities are easier to find.

On the other hand, hoarding knowledge prevents it being useful.

I’m sure you’ve met the “wizards” of the workplace. The person or small group of people whose vast knowledge of some critical business activity makes them indispensable. Other people line up to ask questions and come away with the tidbit that they were looking for, only to come back later for the next pointer. Nothing functions when they go on vacation. Everything in their domain of understanding comes to a grinding halt when they are absent.

Have you watched their reaction when change comes knocking?

Change is scary to a lot of people, but to the “great Oz” it’s terrifying. Change means their power, their security, their perceived value to the organization shrinks. They are usually the most vocal proponents of why something new won’t work and the fastest to latch on to any fumbles as signs that a change spells doom.

Don’t get stuck as a “wizard”. The knowledge of the way things are done prevents you from seeing the benefits of a change and, more importantly for your career, even prevents your growth. If nobody else knows what you know, how can anyone step up and take your place? If nobody can take your place, how can you possibly take on other, more interesting roles?

Who can you share knowledge with today?

Peter Fitzgerald is the founder of and is currently working on his first book, connecting individuals with ideas and opportunities, and attempting to learn the bagpipes.

Tripping the Career Rhapsodic

Monday, September 19th, 2011
Could you be ecstatic about your career? Could you really be tripping the Career Rhapsodic?

For many people “career” equates to “job”, but they’re quite different things. A job is what you do now. The way you pay the bills and spend a good portion of your waking hours. A job is a temporary situation. Ultimately it’s an exchange of time for money that may or may not be in line with your goals. Jobs change even when you don’t change employer or group. Your co-workers and boss will change. The work you do will change. Even the location you work in will probably change.

A career is more than a job, representing a calling to do something in a particular fit with your life. Your career is special. No matter how much it has in common with someone else, you will do it differently. Your career is an expression of who you are, no matter how far off your current job feels. Sometimes your career has nothing to do with your job at all!

This is why changing careers is often such a huge proposition. Real career change is recognizing and expressing a shift in how you see yourself. It’s traumatic to make that kind of change, but it opens you to a new and rewarding chapter of your life. Career changing is a much bigger topic that I’ll come back to another time.

Your career may not have anything to do with your job at all! It might be that your volunteer activities or your family life might be your real career with its own goals and aspirations. Recognizing that your career may or may not be a “professional” endeavor is important. If you work nine months of the year to volunteer in disenfranchised and under-privileged communities, which is really your career?

It might be that you work at jobs to support your career.

Your career is something you draw a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment from. Getting fully engaged with it might not require you to make any life changes or it might mean drastic change is needed. The clichéd adage “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” might need some adjustments when you think about your career.

Framing why you work and reminding yourself where you are going and what your career means to you are crucial to knowing that it is going in the right direction. Getting excited about your career begins with knowing what your career is and where you want it to take you.

Peter Fitzgerald is the founder of and is currently working on his first book, connecting individuals with ideas and opportunities, and attempting to learn the bagpipes.

The Hero’s Journey – The Union of Opposites

Monday, September 12th, 2011

The world is full of paradoxes and divisions if we choose to see it that way. More often than not these are fabricated divisions growing out of fear and ignorance which aren’t necessarily real, but are taken as accepted truths.

In the progression of legendary journeys the “Union of Opposites” often revolves around reconciling the differences between the sexes or between some conflicting parts of the heroine’s personality. We see similar dualities overcome by bringing together different cultures to share and understand one another. Around the world we’re faced with news of the disharmonies between western and arabic cultures, racial inequalities and backlashes against immigrant populations.

In organizations we see silos built up to separate groups who are both intertwined and interdependent for success. Functional areas who jointly support large, value-driving processes often don’t communicate enough to see how the different parts interact. Pain in one group is diminished in the face of the easier solution in another.

More important to your career is the internal struggle to reconcile opposing perspectives. Open your eyes to the way different pieces integrate into a cohesive whole. The small changes made in one place can create large variations for someone else and realizing this lets you negotiate successful outcomes for everyone.

The objective is not to see the world in black and white or good and bad. Bringing together the different thoughts on your own is usually impossible. Reach out and find someone who sees the situation differently and really listen to what they have to say.

What you’ll probably find is that the “bad” responses and interactions are actually “good” for someone else. Find ways to bridge the gap and find ways to make both sides “good”. You’ll quickly find allies on the “other” side who are interested in solving issues for everyone. The successes that come from those solutions let everyone join in the rewards as well!

Shift your perspective to include more and see the success that follows.

Peter Fitzgerald is the founder of and is currently working on his first book, connecting individuals with ideas and opportunities, and attempting to learn the bagpipes.

Considerations for Labor Day

Monday, September 5th, 2011

It’s Labor Day! Wait… if you’re reading this in the USA on Labor Day just stop. Immediately. Go relax!

Labor Day, to quote the US Department of Labor, “is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.” A fine rationale for a national tribute and a great moment to get perspective on what accomplishments you as an individual have had in the previous year. It also marks the start of the fall hiring season for most industries.

For me, this combination sounds like a great time to figure out how to describe and present your achievements. Whether you’re intending to look for a new job or not, it’s good to regularly take stock of accomplishments. If you’re ready for a new challenge, describing your successes prepare you for writing and speaking about your resume to a new employer or group. If you’re not ready for that change, that same description lets you share the same information with your boss and prepare for reviewing your performance.

So spend some time thinking about your sucesses, your achievements, the benefits you’ve provided to others. Once you start you’ll find things coming to mind you haven’t thought and the growth of your list will surprise you. Don’t limit yourself to professional achievements and let the accomplishments flow.

Also, write them down. I can’t say this enough when it comes to goals and achievements. The simple act of recording your successes reaffirms them in your memory. You can be assured that the more you remember your successes the better you can share them with others and the more others will understand your impact on “the social and economic” success around you.

So on this Labor Day relax and take time to reinforce how successful you really are.

Peter Fitzgerald is the founder of and is currently working on his first book, connecting individuals with ideas and opportunities, and attempting to learn the bagpipes.