Why your career isn't a Jenga tower
Updated: Mar 14, 2021
Remember Jenga? It’s that game with the wooden blocks that you stack in sets of 3 into a tall tower. You and your opponent each take turns carefully teasing out a block one by one to place on top, stacking the tower higher and higher. Until… a slight imbalance, one stable foundation piece taken too soon, a gust of wind, a sly underswipe from your friend... and CRASH! BANG! BOOM! - the whole thing comes toppling down, wooden blocks asunder and you left frozen amidst your shattered dreams of victory.
Well my friends, your career is NOT like Jenga.
We often talk about climbing the ladder when it comes to our careers. Taking step after step in the right direction, usually up, occasionally sideways, but rarely straying far from the rungs we know. We build a foundation, and start to lay down levels of experience, one on top of the other, to reach ever-dizzying heights. Yeah - sort of like Jenga.
But what happens when it’s not working for you anymore? What happens when the foundation you laid down is certainly stable and solid but so very boring, so dull, that climbing higher becomes auto-pilot? What happens when the game is no longer fun?
Would you try something new?
Would you take a different step, knowing it might not work and could leave a gap in your career tower?
The truth is, your career is simply not as fragile or tenuous as a Jenga tower. And how could it be? Your career is you. And you are neither fragile nor tenuous. You are a moving, vibrant, flexible, learning machine, not a stack of wooden blocks stuck in one place. Even if you had a gap or two in your tower where you went and tried something new and HEAVEN FORBID you didn’t like it or it didn’t like you and you left shortly after, your career is not going to crumble.
And it’s because of the transferable skills - the ones you’d learn in ANY JOB and the ones you can take into ANY JOB. Now I’ve spoken of them before. The blocks making up your tower aren’t your roles - they are your skills.
I’ve worked in hospitality, retail, publishing, advertising, video production, events, FMCG, marketing, sales, financial services, planning, operations, compliance, projects, change management, coaching and IT, and yet what I take out of this rather batty career path of mine is my ability to learn quickly, my skill at building relationships, my focus on planning and delivery, my valuable communication skills, and my desire to switch on people’s hearts and minds.
Where there’s a skill, there’s never a gap. One bad performance review, one missed KPI, one short 6 month job, a year overseas travelling, parental leave, some time out to kickstart a business - whatever it is that you think is a gap in your career, look more closely, identify what you learnt, and go skills-guns blazing into your next role!
Lata Hamilton is the Founder & CEO of Passion Pioneers, an Executive Coach and Change Leadership Trainer. Sign up to her Change Inspiration mailing list here to get weekly goodies such as articles, templates, tools, videos and upcoming courses direct to your inbox.