Transitions are part of a successful career.
“ Times of transition are strenuous, but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want.” Kristin Armstrong
We all experience transitions in life, professionally and personally, whether they entail joining a new organization, relocating to a new town, moving to a new job or welcoming a new client. Even though transitions are not a daily occurrence, they are “certain” in life. They are “predictable surprises.”
Transitions are part of a successful career, so it makes sense to plan for them, rather than jump in and hope things will work out. To thrive in a new engagement and successfully navigate the transition period we should adapt to this change deliberately and thoughtfully.
In this blog post, I will tell you about career transitions and mindset change to ensure you thrive at any new job.
If the new job-holder is you, the spotlight is now on you. The missteps and successes you take during your transition period will influence your reputation for some time to come.
Let’s have a look.
Remove the fear barrier
When I was ten years, I joined a new school. I was quite shy and wouldn’t answer any questions in class. One day our Mathematics teacher, Mr. Mackenzie asked a question. Many of my classmates attempted to answer but couldn’t.
I thought I knew the answer, but I was too shy to try. Mr. Mackenzie must have sensed this and asked me what I thought. I reluctantly shared my answer, and it turned out to be the right answer.
He then challenged me saying, “why didn’t you speak up” and I replied, “because my answer was so different from everyone else was saying.”
He then leaned over and said. “that is what happened to Christopher Columbus.” When everyone thought the world was flat, he was the first to say it was round.
Now, imagine yourself in the new workplace, everything looks and sounds foreign.
I am sharing this story because, whenever we take up new roles, we carry with us the newbie syndrome. Timid and afraid to share a new perspective on issues.
Courage is key to growth, change, and survival. Developing a courageous mindset will take time, persistence and effort.
It takes courage to keep looking at the big picture, especially when expectations fall short and goals hover out of reach. The courage to overcome the newbie syndrome is born from trust, faith in the outcome, and faith in yourself. Successful people remove unnecessary obstacles to success.
Aristotle once said.
“Anything that we have to learn we learn by the actual doing of it, we become just by performing just acts, temperate by performing temperate ones, brave by performing brave ones.”
Whether you are an employee of a multinational or a freelancer working from home, you must keep in mind one thing when bolstering courage: to get it, you must start showing it.
“Any transition is easier if you believe in yourself and your talent.” Priyanka Chopra
Rest the grumpy face
After five years of working with a local firm, I got an opportunity to transition to a new organization.
About twenty people worked at the firm when I joined-men and women of all ages, shapes, and sizes. Most people were friendly. I do however distinctively remember one lady, whom my friend Flo and I secretly nicknamed “Bensouda.” Bensouda had a resting facial expression that made her look…very ‘concerned’ and angry.
My first impression was that Bensouda seemed a bit gruff. I was young, so you’ll have to excuse my mindset. I remember thinking that I would be better off avoiding Bensouda because she was probably mean and grumpy.
What I didn’t realize until later was I had adopted a belief that if someone looks mean, they are a mean person and I should avoid them. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Bensouda was one of the kindest and gentlest ladies I have come to know, and I learned a lot from her.
One time, Bensouda kindly took a lot of time to show me how to correctly write better reports, maneuver office politics, so that I could get management buy-in and win their support. It’s a handy skill in all corporate jobs.
I’ve now turned my old view around and believe that people can be beautiful on the inside even if they appear gruff on the outside.
I mention my friend Bensouda because, just as I adopted disempowering beliefs around people with grumpy faces, I realize that myself and others in offices carry disempowering beliefs about other people.
I was guilty of this when I started my new position at this new firm. I didn’t realize that I was operating by a few disempowering beliefs — for example, ‘Some people are mean and up to sabotaging my efforts, ‘I should avoid grumpy people’ and so on.
Now that I’m older and wiser, I have changed these around to, ‘everyone has something good to offer’ ‘I need to take time to learn and understand people before writing them off.’
In the same way, I flipped my belief about people with resting grumpy faces to one that serves me better. I know it would serve us remarkably if we found and flipped some of our disempowering beliefs about new colleagues at work.
Do you have any disempowering beliefs you need to flip?
Know your priorities and make the important stuff stand out
Last week I read a story about Jean whose father had died suddenly in 2000. Jean is originally from Dublin, but she was living in Sydney at the time, so she was not there when her father died. He was the head accountant for an energy company and was a serious man, a man of a few words.
Jean’s dad had a cabinet in their dining room that no-one was allowed to touch. This was where he kept his important papers and God only knew what else. So, after the funeral, Jean, her brother, and her sister could not help themselves. They found the key to their dad’s cabinet and got stuck in.
As expected, there was not much of note, but one thing that absolutely floored them. In fact about 20 things. They found 20 small black journals — journals that he had been keeping on and off for over 40 years! Even their mother did not know about these.
As they flicked through them, they saw that he only ever wrote a couple of lines each day. Just footnotes to the day. What the weather was like, that he went for a walk or some other everyday comment. He always wrote with the same neat script, and always, always in black pen.
Except for one day. On a day in the mid-1950s, he wrote an entry in red pen. It was the only day he ever deviated from his pattern. And on that day he wrote, ‘Today is the day that I met the woman I am going to marry!’
That was their mother.
The thing I learned about Jean’s dad was that he knew how to make the important stuff stand out.
Now, I know that your task list might not be quite as dramatic, but the same principle applies. If you find a way to make the really important stuff stand out, you will be more likely to get this stuff done, and to fight for your priorities.
Transitions are a period of change, uncertainty, and a period of learning new rules of engagement.
You can choose to sit back and hope your brilliance, which landed you the role, will help you transition successfully.
Or you can decide to be thoughtful and deliberate and take control of the process.
From experience, I have learned that you are more likely to succeed with the latter approach.
What fears did you have when you last started a new job or project? Have you had any disempowering beliefs? Have you set your priorities right?
What made your first few months in a new company or team more successful?
Please share your insights in the comments below; I’d love to hear from you.