Many of my coaching clients are in varying stages of career transition and growth - particularly defining ‘What’s next?!’. I like the metaphor of mountain climbing as we consider a career choice(s) going forward. Are you climbing the next peak? Are you resting as you reassess the next climb? Are you at the top surveying what you’ve accomplished? Figuring out where my client is in their climb can help us work together to determine where they should go next.
Personally, I’m at the top of a recent peak, having taken a good rest and reflected on what I’ve just accomplished. Now I’m assessing where I’m going next and what I’ll need to be successful. It’s from this lovely perspective that I’ve been able to articulate six key elements into a Framework I need to evaluate my path and my ‘Stake’ for my next significant climb: Vision, Values, Commitment, Structure, Health and Financials.
What do I mean by a ‘Stake’? A Stake is a statement that represents your rallying cry, your motto, a notion that will sustain and propel you forward. It is also something you are tethered to (much like a stake in the ground) that you can return to over and over again to be reminded and re-energized. A Stake typically takes the form “I will be ___ so that I can do ___.” It’s important to capture both elements of being and action. How you are or how you aspire to be in order to achieve whatever great action you intend to undertake. (The concept of ‘Stake’ is based on the co-active leadership model).
When I was on the plateau resting and rejuvenating, my Stake was “with laughter and steadfast focus I open the door to my new way” (I wrote more about this in a previous blog post). That gave me the way to be able to process my recent experiences and get myself ready for my next climb. Now that I’m ready to climb my next mountain, I don’t yet know what’s at the top of this next mountain except that I know enough to know it when I’ll see it. So for now my stake is “grounded confidence so that I can bend (be flexible) while I climb”. That’s all I need now to start climbing.
This is where my framework comes in, when we climb mountains we know where we’re heading - up - but the path there isn’t always straight. Sometimes you need to handle switchbacks, sharp right or left angles, etc. In the software or startup world - we call those pivots. In a career landscape, these are milestones and data points. As I climb I may find that a working assumption is validated or denied which requires a course correction etc.
Leveraging the book Change Anything, which is based on research in human psychology to help people create new habits to support lasting change, I defined key elements in my framework I could use to evaluate where I want to go next. My next step or stage or climb in my career is likely to span a minimum of 5 and more likely 10 years. I want to be sure that I am choosing the mountain carefully and am as prepared as possible to tackle it. Here’s my framework for that assessment.
Vision: how does this opportunity line up to your big ass Vision for your life? or this stage of your life?
Values: how does this opportunity align with your values?
Commitment: does this opportunity give you a sense of commitment, purpose, motivation? Will it stand through the tough and the easy times ahead?
People/Team: who will you be surrounded with? do they inspire you? will you learn from them? what do you like about them?
Economics/Financials: how do the economics of the opportunity line up to your needs over the time period proposed e.g. if you’re joining a startup do you get equity and salary, what’s the risk of the equity, does the salary cover your cost of living, etc
Environment e.g. geographic location, office, What is the physical environment and how does that support what you need e.g. working from home or an office, is it in the same city you live or will you be commuting, is there travel, is that good? etc
Health: how will this career move support your ability to maintain overall health, physical, mental and spiritual?
Many career paths are straightforward, there is a role, title, or position you aspire to within your company or industry. What is not typically as clear is what it will take to get there - your path. That’s where the climbing comes in. What do you need to climb? what knowledge? who can you rely on as allies for your climb? what will serve as data points to let you know you’re on the right path?
I hope your Stake and this Framework strengthens your capability to grow in your career and helps you have fun climbing :)!