The front cover of Philadelphia Magazine’s November issue screamed, “We Are All Entrepreneurs Now.” I’ve also heard this concept referred to as YoYo Land (You’re on Your Own).
As we take steps to achieve success in our chosen careers, we sometimes search for mentors as well as role models. We quickly realize that many celebrated individuals who have been catapulted onto the world stage arrived there, not only as a result of hard work, but also after being closely mentored. In the past, men have been dominant in, but not limited to, business, entertainment, sports and politics. They arrived at the top of their game often times, as a result of not only of their hard work, but because they had someone in their life who gave them sorely needed direction.
While mentoring has always been available in some small way to women, today the availability of role models and mentors is without limit. There is no excuse for any career person (male or female) to plod on without guidance or mentoring. All we need do is look about for those successful women who can attest to the power of effective mentoring: Oprah, Angela Merkel, Barbara Walters, Hillary Clinton, Condi Rice, Megyn Kelly, Golda Maier, Serena and Venus Williams, to mention a few.
In 2008, Helen Harkness wrote about the term mentoring in an article where she claimed that we are all working in a world where we are on our own (YoYo Land). If you wait around for someone to drop out of the blue to mentor and coach you in the management of your career, it’s just not going to happen. You are probably thinking, yes, this sounds really interesting, but I don’t have the time nor do I know how to obtain a mentor. That may be the case. But, if you want your career to progress rather than stagnate or come to an end, you will find the time and learn how to find one. The first step is to take a chance and reach out to someone who might have good career advice relating to your goals.
Due to an anemic economy, the current job market appears to be dismal, and, according to some economists, will continue to remain unchanged for a long period of time. What does this tell you? It means that in order to remain competitive and to move forward in your field, you will have to develop multiple strategies with close confidants and professionals and engage in networking with associates and friends to help you move your career in the direction of career satisfaction.
Long gone are the days of a traditional career ladder. Instead of climbing up the ladder, the new strategy effecting career progression is identified as a career lattice rather than a career ladder. Joanne Cleaver, author of The Career Lattice, defines it as “a diagonal framework that braids lateral experiences, adjacent skill acquisition and peer networking to move employees to any of a variety of positions for which they have become qualified.”
Ms. Cleaver believes that one’s ability to “lattice” across, up and down different positions will be a critical skill in the years to come. I believe this author’s rationale is spot on because this is the wave of the future. This strategy is transdisciplinary, being defined as “the ability to integrate different sets of knowledge and fluency across multiple disciplines.”
You have heard the adage “jack of all trades, master of none” which may have provided work for Jack but really never did much for his career. The time, however, is approaching — if not already here — when “master of all disciplines” will be the requisite for a successful career. Employers, in an effort to trim budgets, will hire the multi-tasker capable of combining his/her education, expertise, and work experiences to meet the varying demands of the position. The ability to effectively weave these various assets into an “am qualified, can do all, will do all” offering to a prospective employer will ensure success on a continuing basis.
Clearly, assuming ownership of your career is an absolute necessity. YoYo Land is here to stay, so accepting that you need to manage your career will undoubtedly give you a better shot at advancing in one of the most competitive climates we’ve ever seen.