Facing the future entails a long hard look in the mirror and the willingness to realistically assess the picture in the reflection. If the picture looks fine, then check to make sure there are no monkeys in hats, clowns blowing up balloons and a ring toss pitchman sitting on the periphery of that self-delusion. As the shifting economic times shake at the foundation of a long term heritage of prosperity, the requirements for individual success are no longer rooted in the cradle-to-grave security of Big Daddy’s benevolence, but demand an active commitment to think and act beyond self-imposed limitations. The traditional, and well documented, approach of doing one thing real well in order to preserve a measurable existence has met its match in the instant change speed of the global movement.

The beginning of any change process, whether individual or organizational, starts with a firm willingness to objectively assess your current skill set, future career/occupational needs and individual capacity to move beyond fear of the unknown. It requires a Self-Awareness gut check of skills, capabilities and a mental shift from ‘wait and see’ to ‘see and do’. There is a frightening tendency to assess only those things that are comfortable and overlook those areas in which honing a few more skills can alter a career path for the better. The mirror reflects, but the individual evaluates. There is compelling agreement from a variety of disciplines that human beings are capable of being more than birth place, birth order and birth day, but often than not, settle for whatever slot they fell into without examining if that’s where they belonged.

The next step in the paradigm shift requires a lifelong commitment toward Self-Development. In the professional arena this means moving beyond the job requirements, but actively seeking more knowledge, broader skill expansion and the recognition that corporate benevolence extends only as far as individual’s willingness to reach toward their own future. While surfing the net looking for video poker games, that time should be dedicated to looking for online self-assessment tests, legitimate university degree programs, information about job trends, and opportunities for professional growth. The mirror reflects, but the individual adjusts. There is a familiar maxim in the entertainment field which states that “you’re only as good as your last show” and where self-development is concerned, each show requires that you do something a little different in order to truly understand your own capabilities.

The cycle would be incomplete without a Self-Management focus. The answer to the question, “Now, that I understand, what must I do?” has to be managed along a deliberate path that balances time and energy with activity and outcome. The enthusiastic burst that follows awareness and development can be professionally liberating if the idea is to look at one’s career on a continuum of experiences and skill seeking activities. Everything that needs to be done cannot be done at one time. However, those things chosen to be done can be seen as connecting activities that build on each other. Organizations can do a good job of laying out a buffet of legitimate and necessary tasks that will require a commitment to take on more than is your customary undertaking, but it is the responsibility of the individual to pick and eat wisely. The mirror reflects, but the individual moves. As preparation is made to begin to travel along this 21st century road of change and opportunity, the wise counsel imparted to Laertes by his father, Polonius as he begins his life altering journey in Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’, should resound from cubicle to cubicle and business to business. “This above all: To thine own self be true”

© 2013 Lee E. Meadows
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