Rethinking The Career Metaphor: Ladder or Blank Canvas?
Anyone else feel like this week's energy is a complete shift from last week? ❤️🔥
Today, I'm holding down the fort at my favorite coffee shop, tackling a flurry of tasks: onboarding new coaching partners and prepping for some exciting workshops that are right around the corner.
And I’m rebooting my Process podcast.
I'm thrilled to have successful CEOs and world-renowned authors lined up as guests. These folks are at the top of their game, with calendars bursting at the seams, yet they're making time to dive deep into resilience, mindset, and creativity with us.
Get ready for an invigorating lineup of episodes coming your way very soon.
In the midst of the exhilarating hustle, the endless requests to sing “The Muffin Man” and create Magnatile castles keeps me relaxed and playful.
As I gear up to record the podcast, an intriguing thought has been occupying my mind.
Now that my oldest knows how to find my shows on Spotify and YouTube, I find myself contemplating the advice I want my children to hear as they embark on their own creative journeys beyond formal schooling.
I take continuous learning as a given. They watch me read voraciously, devour podcasts, and complete trainings all the time. I hope some of that sticks.
But to what end?
What truly excites me is wondering what they'll do with all that knowledge. What will they create?
And that brings us to this week's topic...
How to create a fulfilling career without the traditional constraints of climbing the ladder?
Before we jump in, a shoutout to each and every one of YOU.
Thank you for putting in the effort to work on yourselves, heal your wounds, and level up your relationships (including the one with yourself).
You're making a positive impact on the world, and a celebration is in order.
👏 SELF 👏 WORK 👏 FOR 👏 THE 👏 WIN 👏
As a specialist in empowering rising stars on early-stage teams, my mission is to equip you with a resilient, empowered mindset that leads to wins, wins, and more wins. And if you need support or guidance, you know I've got your back.
If you’re serious about fixing your mindset and creating your ideal life, hit ‘reply’ and I’ll point you toward the right resources or set up a call with me if you’d like to work together to get results faster.
Okay, enough chit-chat. Let's go.
A good friend of mine just scored a job at one of her dream companies — and way faster than she expected.
In less than two years, she managed to skyrocket her salary by 313%.
But she knows her work has only just begun.
Now, her ultimate goal is to use these opportunities as a stepping stone towards creating her own dream job: starting something of her own that can make a massive impact on the world.
She reached out to me and asked:
I thought I’d share with all of you what I shared with her. None of these points are specific to the tech scene — they can be applied to any career, as long as it’s creative in some way (and they all are to some extent).
Let’s get to it.
Meaning, meaning, and more meaning
Everyone faces challenges. We can't predict the specific nature or intensity of those challenges. However, what we can do is prepare ourselves for them in advance.
Preparing for challenges comes down to one thing: how we interpret and attribute meaning to these challenges.
Some people take setbacks to mean something terrible about themselves or their future. “I’m not good enough.” Or “This will never work.”
Others take setbacks to mean opportunity and greenspace to explore new avenues — a springboard for pivoting to a better strategy.
I asked her, “Which kind of person do you want to be?”
Based on her track record of landing impressive jobs and rapidly increasing her skillset, I already know the answer. She's an absolute powerhouse.
BUT she'll need to maintain that mindset to keep achieving great things
Here are three things she did next:
She wrote herself a letter filled with encouragement and tough love, to be read whenever she hits a rough patch.
She found the right coach to help keep laser-focused on doing her best work and digging deep to design what she builds next.
She leveraged her network and intentionally expanded it to cultivate peer relationships she can lean on and learn from.
External growth hinges on internal growth — and the fastest way to grow internally is to constantly reframe challenges as opportunities.
Effective? Yes. Easy? Not in the slightest.
Support along this journey is crucial. Surrounding herself with reminders of her powerhouse mindset through letters, prompts, books, a coach, and a supportive network is key.
Especially when transitioning from a successful role to one filled with uncertainty.
Making the decision to leave a cushy tech job and embark on her entrepreneurial journey is bound to face significant resistance. Her mindset will have to be bulletproof to navigate the critics and pursue the fulfilling life she envisions for herself.
Each individual is different. She’ll need to find support in people who respect the kind of business and life she wants to create.
Learning from others
I’ve been connecting with tons of people on LinkedIn who’ve transitioned from one industry to another, many times various times in their careers.
They’re not the only ones.
Know Sam Harris? He went from studying English at Stanford to practicing meditation in Nepal for years before becoming a world-renowned author on Atheism and later a mindfulness teacher and mobile app founder.
How about Jeff Bezos? Before starting an online bookstore out of his garage, he made a living on Wall Street.
Personally, I treat my own career as a blank canvas upon which I paint with my unique abilities and passions. I’m not climbing a ladder — I am fulfilling my personal mission in my own way.
This isn’t to say the ladder can’t be helpful to some. If you are hellbent on achieving excellence within one industry, the ladder may be the only metaphor you need.
But being multi-passionate and transitioning careers is now more common than ever.
Even the esteemed Dr. Andrew Huberman took an unexpected turn in his academic neuroscience career to take on podcasting and monetizing content as an online creator. And that bold move is what took his work to the mainstream.
Being willing to redefine the rules and embracing the endless possibilities we have before us means playing a big game — a game larger than most are willing to consider.
If your career were a blank canvas, what would you do next? What kind of game would you play?
Create your own meaningful portfolio career
Choosing a career is much like choosing a major in college: more often than not, a random guess.
You never really know what you’re getting into or whether or not you’ll like it until you’re knee deep in it (which is why I’m such a proponent of apprenticeships or internships starting in high school.)
That’s why you must always be growing.
Everyone loves a good list, so let’s run through some action steps you can use to grow, grow, grow no matter what.
1. Embrace variety
Don't limit yourself to just one area of interest or expertise. Explore a wide range of activities, hobbies, and experiences. Engage in different industries, take up new challenges, and be open to learning from diverse perspectives. This will not only expand your skill set but also foster creativity and adaptability.
2. Seek guidance (otherwise known as “feedback”)
Actively seek feedback from others, whether it's from mentors, colleagues, or friends. Talking through your growth opportunities with the right people (hint: both clear and kind) will keep you moving toward excellence. Embrace it all.
3. Continuous learning
Never stop learning. Invest in your personal and professional development by attending workshops, seminars, or online courses. Stay updated with industry trends, read books, and engage in thought-provoking conversations. The more knowledge you acquire, the more equipped you'll be to tackle new challenges and seize opportunities.
4. Build a supportive network
Surround yourself with like-minded individuals who inspire and motivate you. Connect with pros in your field of interest, join relevant communities or forums, and actively participate in networking events. Building a strong support network can provide invaluable guidance, collaboration opportunities, and a sense of belonging. The key is to choose wisely: they must be go-getters, as well.
5. Take calculated risks
Optimize for being outside of your comfort zone. Growth happens beyond our perceived limitations, so don’t take your foot off the pedal for too long.
(Rest when you need to, sure, but in service of continuing to journey forward.)
6. Stay in beast mode
When you notice your mindset dip — negative thoughts, limiting beliefs, a drop in energy and motivation — be quick about reaching out to someone who can amp you up. Whatever you do, don’t hide it. In the shadows, it’ll only grow.
Do those 6 steps resonate with you?
Day in and day out, I see these at work in the rising stars and high performers I coach in 1-on-1 sessions. Just like my friend's extraordinary 313% income growth in under two years, I've also had the privilege of witnessing others get crazy wins like achieving TWO desired promotions within a mere 4.5 months or removing oneself from a toxic work situation to step into one of growth AND kindness in 2 months.
But what truly stands out is the incredible emotional and physical well-being they unlock along the way, surpassing what they once believed possible.
The tide of your experiences can lift all the projects you work on.
I can confidently say that my extensive podcast hosting experience has significantly enhanced my coaching abilities. Moreover, my natural inclination towards coaching has proven to be advantageous in my roles as a team leader and manager. Surprisingly enough, even my teenybopper passion for *NSYNC as a tween actually contributed to my proficiency in online networking. (Shoutout to LiveJournal users out there!)
The connections are endless.
My friend is keeping her eye on these 6 things at all times, making sure they’re dialed in to stay on top of her game. She’s also looking into side projects that can encourage her growth and grow her network.
Similar to an elite athlete who diligently visits the gym and fine-tunes their training program to perfection, my friend is putting in the same level of effort to shape her work life into the best possible picture while she can.
What will it be: traditional ladder or blank canvas?
I realize not everyone can get off the ladder right now. However, it’s certainly something anyone can work toward.
Because this isn’t a predetermined path to follow — it’s a lens through which you perceive your work and, most importantly, shape your ideal work life.
Your career is not confined to a linear progression. You have the opportunity to paint your own masterpiece.
By embracing this mindset, you open yourself up to endless possibilities. You become the architect of your own work life, designing it in a way that aligns with your passions, values, and aspirations.
Finding synergy between different pursuits and allowing them to complement and enhance one another — that is how you create a fulfilling career.
So, what will it be?
Will you embrace the boundless potential of a blank canvas? The choice is yours, and by choosing the latter, you unlock the power to create a career that is not only meaningful but fitting to your extraordinary (and fleeting) time on this planet.
You got this. ✌️
All the best vibes ✨
PS. If you resonated with these ideas, I think you’ll love The Mindset School courses I’m developing based on hundreds of coaching sessions I’ve had with people at the top of their game. It’s an easy-to-use framework to help you maximize your creative life and achieve your ambitious goals as fast as possible. Reply the word “mindset” and I’ll send you the signup link.
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