"We save for rainy days when it comes to our bank accounts but don’t do anything to protect our careers from the storm"
What if you could change the way you looked at your job? What if you could get unstuck? What if you could call a do over? These are the big questions that bestelling author Jon Acuff asks us in his new book, Do Over.
I’ve always loved the quote “The journey of a thousand miles, begins with one step.” So simple, yet so true. And our careers are no different. During our professional lives, whether voluntary or involuntary, we will all experience a career bump, a career jump, hit a career ceiling, or you’ll be graced with a surprise career opportunity.
In Do Over, Jon Acuff teaches us about the four elements all great careers have in common: relationships, skills, character and hustle. These are the four areas that one needs to invest in over the course of their career to be armed to handle the inevitable career bumps, jumps, ceilings and opportunities.
Are you ready to call a do over?
The Big Idea
The Career Savings Account
"Relationships + Skills + Character x Hustle = Career Savings Account"
My biggest take away from Do Over was the importance of building your Career Savings Account (CSA).
Very simply, these are the areas that you need to invest in over the course of your career to be equipped to handle the career bumps, jumps, ceilings and opportunities that you may encounter.
Think of it this way. Most of us have some money saved as an emergency fund, right? Well, think of your CSA as basically the same thing. This “Career Savings Account” will be your security along with your ammo to help get you through, navigate and take advantage of the various job obstacles that you might encounter throughout your career. Your career savings account is made up of:
- Relationships — who you know.
- Skills — what you do.
- Character — who you are.
- Hustle — how you work.
Your career will take twists and turns, but investing in these four buckets positions you to be successful in any scenario. I think we would all agree that these are straightforward components of what it takes have success in any area, not just your career.
The problem lies in that you’ve probably never applied these CSA components directly to your job. When you come to a point in your career where you experience a career bump, jump, ceiling or opportunity, you’ll need investments in each of these areas to get back in the career game quickly and successfully.
You have more skills than you think
"It’s hard to read the label when you’re inside the bottle"
Most of the skills we possess, we don’t think of as “skills”. To us, they are just things we do. Let me give you an example. I am in sales and my job requires that I cold call prospective clients. To me, it’s just a part of the job. I pick up the phone, I call the client and explore whether or not it makes sense to potentially do business together. No biggie to me. But, having the ability and nerve to just pick up the phone, make that call and succeed in making that call, is a very valuable skill. That is something I can take with me no matter where my career leads me.
Does that make sense? Good. Now it’s your turn. Acuff gives the reader a very simple, two-step exercise to help self-assess the skills that we do have.
First, take out a stack of note cards. Now, all you do is write one skill you currently have per card. Jon is going for quantity not quality here. Now answer the follow questions, individually, until you can’t think of any more to write. Then move on to the next question…
- What are you good at?
- What comes naturally to you?
- What do people pay me to do?
- What are you afraid of?
- If you wrote an eBook, what would the topic be?
Next, look for patterns and group those note cards together.
I know, I know, these self-awareness exercises can be challenging to sit down and actually do. But this exercise is so simple and powerful so just do it!
What I often find is that we’re too hard on ourselves. We downplay our own skills and abilities in a way that can be detrimental to our long term growth and development. The reality is that each one of us is more capable than we think we are. That is a profound truth, and the more we’re able to realize that fact the more confidence we’ll gain and the more success we’ll have.
Head down, head up
"Awareness is critical because like relationships, not all hustle is created equally."
I am a firm believer that hard work is a critical factor in success of any kind. However, hard work alone won’t get you to where you want to be. You must be working on the right things relentlessly over time to get the results that you want. I absolutely love the quote above from Acuff, so much that it bears repeating: “Awareness is critical because like relationships, not all hustle is created equally”.
Again, this all comes back to the premise that we must be working on the right things to get us to where we want to end up. Now how exactly do we do that? Easy. Put your head down and work hard, but every so often raise your head to make sure that you’re going in the direction that you want to go. Hustle with awareness, otherwise, that hustle will get you to the wrong place fast. As Acuff writes, “You don’t have to know the exact path, because nobody does, but are you roughly headed in the right direction? If you want to be a musician and you’re a pharmaceutical sales rep working seventy hours a week, not playing any music, stop kidding yourself.”
For most of us, we’ll spend about a third of our lives working. That’s a staggering percentage and I would think that number will rise. That time should be invested in doing something that we love, in a career that best suits our personalities and our skills, and fulfills everything we desire out of a career.
As is discussed throughout Do Over, that journey will be full of twists, turns, jumps, ceilings and surprises for all of us. The reality is, no matter where that journey takes us we have all the ability to call a do over and take all of our acquired skills, knowledge and expertise and put it towards that amazing career that we all deserve.