From the iron age to nearly the industrial age, blacksmiths prospered. Villagers needed plows, shovels, iron tires for wagons, nails and tools to build their homes, all of which the blacksmiths forged. They needed their horses and oxen shod and their tools repaired. Being a blacksmith was a sound professional choice.
Yet despite flourishing for centuries, this vital profession was all but eliminated in a few generations. Who could envision affordable mass-produced items lining the shelves of big box stores, or anticipate societal changes incomprehensible at the time?
How many current professions will go the way of blacksmith? Today's rate of change is measured in years, not centuries. It's life at warp-speed, where job security doesn't exist, and today's approaches are tomorrow's antiques. Just consider what's happened to the music industry in ten years. Vinyl records anyone?
One thing is clear: twenty-first century success won't be guaranteed from a particular major, a certain profession, a specific job title, or the latest skill. It won't come from discovering the right industry or company or next idea. Those are moving targets.
You see, your future is not out there. It's inside of you. Writer and futurist, Alvin Toffler said, "The illiterate of the twenty-first century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn."
Some say the only constant in life is change. But in your life, the only constant is you. You can move with the change-currents, bobbing like a buoy in the ocean and go nowhere. Or you can paddle your sea kayak with a sturdy oar of your unique talents, core-values, life potential, and resilient spirit, knowing it's your inner strengths that will secure your future
People who are winning at working find their way in a changed and changing world through inner navigation and core connection. That way, they know which changes to embrace, which to leverage with their talents into successful opportunities, and which to ignore. They calm the waves of change in their life by drawing from what's inside them that doesn't change. Then they can make sense of what's in the outside world that does.
The waves of change are also calmed by how you face the world. Some people orient to the world like they were on the deck of a cruise ship, turning their chairs to watch where they've been. Others on that same deck turn forward so they can see where they're going and what's ahead.
People who are winning at working do the latter. They orient toward their future, agreeing with author Dan Millman, "The secret of change consists in concentrating one's energy to create the new, and not fight against the old."
The bottom line? In these turbulent times, career sustainability will be determined by your ability to transform yourself with the times.
So anchor the chaos, discomfort, uncertainty, and fear that often accompanies change, to the unchangeable core within you. That anchoring first step makes all the difference, whether you initiate the change or it's thrust upon you.
(c) 2009 Nan S. Russell. All rights reserved. Award winning author of Hitting Your Stride (Capital Books; 2008). Radio host of "Work Matters with Nan Russell" weekly on webtalkradio.net. Nan Russell has spent over twenty years in management, most recently with QVC as a Vice President. Sign up to receive Nan's "Winning at Working" tips and insights at www.nanrussell.com; follow on twitter @nan_russell
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