Adaptability Vs Inconsistency – My Story

Saturday Midnight – While I conduct interviews for an Executive MBA program for a reputed B school located on the other side of the continent, something strikes me. I see my story being told by someone.

I ask myself how am I feeling. Am I bewildered since I feel shortchanged - my distinctiveness is grabbed by someone or am I happy to find out that I met someone just like me and there might be a tribe waiting out there.

I was speaking to a Senior General Manager of well-known Airline company with experience over two decades, a mother to two daughters who enjoys painting with them, is a movie buff and a music lover.

I want you all to close your eyes and visualize yourself, 5 years back, 10 years back and may be 15 years back or even more as applies to you.

Jot down a couple of points about yourself for each of these visualizations- may be how you looked, how you dressed, how you spoke, what you thought of , where were you, what skills – professional and personal did you possess and what were your goals.

The purpose of doing this exercise is to acknowledge , how far have you traveled, to explicitly see your journey, revisit yourself and feel the difference in you; that day and today.

Over the last one year I have interviewed hundreds of candidates and not one interaction was like another. Coming back to the Saturday story that pushed me to write this blog today, I realized one thing; everyone has his /own journey. Academic scores, your current and past organisations don’t determine what you will be tomorrow. The pursuit for excellence shows you the way. You aren’t destined for achieving outstanding results , but you create your own road map devoid of the herd.

I remember our campus placement days; the stereotype teachings of our professors, the no new statements of recruiters- stick to a job for atleast 3 years, don’t be a job hopper , etc, etc.

While I do not completely disagree with the above ; I would also like to explore other perspectives on these that stand valid. With the current crisis, things have become uncertain and unpredictable to an extent that various scholars could not have predicted. So many things at work place have changed: so many jobs have changed their structure and so many jobs declared redundant. I peculiarly remember reading about this Mexican 80 year old man, Carlos Elizondo who lost his job at a grocery store and started his Youtube Channel and has become a star in less than two months.

Would you call this Inconsistency in career or Adaptability?

Oxford Learners Dictionaries define adaptability as : “ ​The quality of being able to change or be changed in order to deal successfully with new situations.”

Your answer would ofcourse be adapatbility – because he was left with no choice but to make lemonade from lemons that life threw at him.

But what if someone decides to do the same in his early career? We label him inconsistent, not steady with choices. I would not want to comment for or against anything, but I would look at a person making different choices as the one who possibly has the gumption to listen to his calling and not succumb to pressure of peers, or anything else; take a bold step, explore other opportunities, adapt , grow and move on. I bet; changing organisations, switching careers, restarting them are even more challenging than being in a steady one. It brings along uncertainties of finances, growth, people challenges , peer criticism, bad looking work graph and such.

I sometimes think of career gaps, job hopping phenomenon being given unnecessary blow up. Just like a cartel of a bunch of employers. Why cage up or label something as negative and not appreciate the individual as him/ her. These incidents do not lower the skills of an individual or reduce their abilities. Not all manage to achieve great heights like the one I interacted with on Saturday ; but that doesn’t mean others are not doing well.

Possibly its one way for organisations to imply commitment during interviews. Unfortunately, during crisis like this, many cannot expect the same commitment from the employers because the bottom line is shaky. Why is this justified; and not an inner calling of the employee to discontinue a job / profession?

I was interviewing another candidate who was a BA (Bachelor of Arts) and was Asst Manager HR in just 4 years after her degree . Her organization had recognized her skill and changed her position from a content writer to HR associate within 8 months of her taking up the job. She will be glorified as an adaptable employee since she sticked to the same organization and adhered to what she was asked for. I can imagine her talking to her parents after 8 months of her role as content writer and telling them that it interests her no more and she feels fascinated toward Human Resources – she would then have been a fickle minded child.

I also remember this Final Year engineering college student confiding in me during a training program of how he opted for engineering for his parents and doesn’t want to pursue a career in it but cannot gather the guts to opt for something else that he likes.

I pursued my Bachelors in Hotel Management and started my career in hospitality but over a period of 11 years, continued my education as Masters in Human Resources, Diplomas in Labour Law, Training and Development , qualified NET and moved on to being a faculty member and then working independently as a trainer and management consultant on projects in the lubricant industry. When I look around, I feel the gratification of have achieved much more; presented and published papers, become a better communicator, hone my skills to be a facilitator, become a risk taker, change my mindset from a job seeker to being a solopreneur.

I recently launched my first virtual course on Udemy and shared it publicly. Even now; I have so many of my friends and relatives giving me a hidden message , “Please atleast stick to this now!”

And I proudly tell myself here; may be, may be not. I will continue to do things that make me better, things that challenge me to exploit my abilities, things that keep me safe from constant uncertainties and things that continue to shape me!

#selfdiscovery #freeyourself

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