The Career Triad; plotting the route to Perpetual Success

There are days when I tingle enough to power the grid. There is nothing like seeing a client thrive. Nothing. Consuming a dozen Moak coffee espressos with my fingers poked into mains socket wouldn’t electrify me as much as seeing someone I’ve worked with succeed.

And that’s what it was like last Friday while having lunch with Amanda.

During the past 18 months Amanda D. has become a star re-born. In that time she has progressed from sitting on a chair by the Exit to having a seat at the top table. This achieved this generating increasingly large amounts of value while, in parallel,  diminishing personal and family stress.  

No magic bullet here. Just some tweaks in behaviours, some safe-to-fails experiments which built profits and self-esteem concomitantly, all of which supplied the growth in confidence to make some bold decisions on Life.

At her request I am sharing the triad which kicked off our work together.

Dryly titled the Career Triad, I am now adopting Amanda’s moniker of “the Tonic Triad” because of its “life-affirming properties.”

We sat down and plotted Amanda’s 30 year career. We researched into her performance reviews and examined the correlation between job (as located on the triad) and performance evaluations.  From this, Amanda concluded she was on a path to a fog-shrouded summit; each successive step required even harder work; there lots of opportunities to fall; there were no good views on the ascent to compensate.

Carrying on is not an attractive option

The apices of the Tonic Triad are the constituent ingredients of problem-solving leadership;

  1. Is there a problem to be solved, an opportunity in a job for example, where I can display my problem-solving capabilities.
  2. Do I have the necessary skills, capabilities, knowledge or experience to solve the problem successfully?
  3. Have I the motivation and interest to solve the problem and to fund, psychologically, any required stresses and strains to get the job done?

There various combinations can leave isolated in doldrums waiting for favourable winds. Unfortunately, to ensure getting out of these zones, you have to paddle.

The Zone of the Unhappy Artist

This is where you have skills and capabilities and bag fulls of energy and motivation—but no market or opportunity. You’re a solution looking for a problem.

Action: You don’t need a strategy, you need a marketing plan. Network and seek opportunities—otherwise find a day job.

The Zone of Reluctant Duty

High performer meets high need but little appetite to invest in further growth and development.  The career equivalent of a cash cow. Sustainable if the environment doesn’t change (good luck), and highly susceptible to sudden crash.  No self-improvement leads to DBD (death-by-depreciation.)

Action: Seek opportunities to shift into more motivating roles using your current capabilities as a springboard. Apply your current skills into new areas. NB: It is a mis-conception that mathematicians are intellectually dry and shrivelled once they hit 25. Many mathematicians win prizes in later age by applying their knowledge and experience to problems in different topics

The Zone of Broken Dreams

Yes, yes, yes. We have all wanted to be a professional footballer, ballet dancer, rockstar, or to play Bach’s Cello concerto at the Albert Hall during the Prom’s, but leaden feet, two left hands, or the inability to carry a tune in a bucket spoilt those dreams. But some still float through life in that reverie.

Action: Burst your own bubble before someone else does. There’ll be fewer tears and you won’t graze your knees when you hit the ground. Reset your standard or convert your career to a hobby. 

The Zone of the Living Dead

You’re a poor performer and each day lasts forever.  I am told there are two phases of sea-sickness. Phase 1 is where you are so sick you are frightened you are going to die. Phase 2 is where you are so sick you are frightened you are not going to die. This Zone is permanent phase 2.  You’re anchored in the part of the performance evaluation curve that makes the top 75% possible. You are less Zorro, and more Zombie.

Action: Leave. Quickly. Move as soon as you can. Formulate the transition any way you want but you have to escape. You are draining yourself faster than an iPhone streaming video at full volume and connected to every wifi and bluetooth device in the office. If you can’t go, build a lot (I mean a lot) of interests and distractions outside of the working environment.

The Zone of Perpetual Energy

This is the sweet spot. You have skills which you’re motivated to develop and deploy, and opportunities to utilise them effectively.  It is a virtuous circle.  The consequences of success (time, recognition, pride, self-esteem, self-confidence, money) are reinvested in skill development, capacity to take on bigger challenges, time and independence to pursue your motivations and interests.

In the Zone of Perpetual Energy you become more successful at lower stress thus giving you more independence to become more successful at lower stress, thus giving you more independence to become more successful at lower stress….

Perhaps, as Amanda suggested, we should call it the Zone of Self-Perpetuating Energy.

She agreed to share her journey below. The steps she followed were simple.

  1. Where am I now and what evidence (personal performance reviews etc) support this position?
  2.  Where would I like to be? (Not as obvious an answer as might seem.)
  3. What obstacles are preventing me from making the move? (Opportunities, family commitments, lack of skills)
  4. What are the various ways I can overcome them (safely)?
  5. How can I test the possible routes quickly and safely?
  6. How will I know I am making progress?


Amanda's journey

Simon LuntComment