Think of your career as a river. For most of us, it’s long and winding. While it may stagnate in areas, it keeps flowing along, sometimes rapidly and other times at a slower pace. It can even branch off and head in new directions. Like rivers, careers are dynamic and every once in a while, it makes sense to take stock of where yours is going, so you can make any necessary course corrections. To continue the “career is a river” metaphor, we’ll explore the three stages of river development and how they correlate with career development.
Upper Stage, Youthful River
Rafters looking for a thrill will seek out a youthful river, which is characterized by steep gradients, fast-flowing water, rapids and even waterfalls. This is similar to the excitement of embarking on a new career. You have a lot to learn all at once, and while navigating can be nerve-wracking, it can also be exhilarating.
Because a new career can be overwhelming, it can be easy to get swept up and be carried along without appreciating the journey. If you are new in your career, take time to learn and absorb as much as you can about your job, business and industry. Look for opportunities that excite you that you may want to pursue downstream. Take advantage of the expertise of those around you, and seek out purposeful ways to add value, grow and develop.
Middle Stage, Mature River
The velocity of a mature river slows down, but there is more water in the stream channel, so the river is capable of carrying a greater volume of sediment. As your career progresses, you, too, will be able to carry a greater load, both in terms of the work you produce as well as the value you add. You may enter into a leadership role and be responsible for the career trajectories of others.
During this middle stage, you have the luxury of exploration and contemplation. You can look at where you’ve been, survey your options and create a purposeful strategy to take you where you want to go next, whether that means staying the course or branching off into something new.
Lower Stage, Old Age River
While the velocity of an old age river slows down, don’t let that fool you into thinking it is without power. During flood stages, water that overflows the river’s banks is not only capable of moving large boulders, but also large structures. And as they say, with great power comes great responsibility.
In terms of your career, this can be a great time to consider your legacy. What accomplishments do you want to check off your list? How can you help those coming up next? With the skills and experience you have collected along the way, you have a unique opportunity to decide what mark you want to leave; now is the time to do it.
You Are in Control
All rivers impact the land over which they pass, carrying new materials, carving steep canyons and forming flood plains, completely reshaping the landscape over time. When it comes to your career, however, you can control and change its course to determine your final destination. If you’re not sure how, we can help.
We have the tools and expertise to help you navigate to the next level. Our Performance Dynamics® assessment is a great starting point. It consists of three personality inventories designed to identify 17 different traits that drive personality and behavior. No matter where you are in your career, understanding the “why” behind your actions can result in profound personal and professional development.
Our Leadership Training and Development Program takes you around the next bend by showing you how to work within your personality to establish effective leadership skills and practices. If you find yourself stagnating, our “Next Level” Coaching can help you break through by focusing on the aspects of your personality and behavior that contribute to your success, as well as areas keeping you from reaching your full potential. Reach out to get started.