by Scott Brown, Rocky Mountain Chapter, Competitive Intelligence Division
Over the past few years, I’ve earned my Masters in Counseling as a supplement to my career path. I earned my MLIS in 1999, and became interested in therapy and counseling soon afterward. My intent on getting my Masters in Counseling was to provide coaching services to information professionals, as well as to provide psychotherapy services to the public.
In November of 2009, I was asked to give a presentation on navigating transition to a group of corporate folks who were facing a large layoff. The layoff hadn’t happened yet, but the reality was that layoffs were imminent, and the topic was at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
After asking her permission, I shamelessly stole Cindy Romaine’s “Future Ready” tag as a title for the presentation. The full title was “Future-ready: Thriving in times of transition and change”.
In the presentation, I discussed both the logistics and the psychology of impending change. Logistics included things like detaching from your organizational email address; making sure you have the files you need from your work system; updating your resume; making appointments while you still have benefits.
These are important items. I also chose to focus on the other things that go along with change like this. How do you pass on your responsibilities to someone else, especially projects you’ve cared about for years, or something you started yourself? How do you let go? How do you understand why you feel crappy, scared, excited, angry, uncertain, hopeless and hopeful, all at the same time? How do you move forward from a job or duties that you don’t necessarily want to leave?
Part of the process of successfully navigating change is having the understanding that paradox is inherent in change. Change is scary AND exciting. Change will affect you in ways that you can’t control, AND you have the opportunity to have some control in the midst of change.
When our jobs and careers change, the effect on our life can be dramatic. So much of our identity can be wrapped up in our jobs and careers.
So what’s important about being future ready for me? I think about three factors:
- Being prepared
- Being connected
- Being open and flexible
Being prepared means looking ahead to not only what might happen that seems negative – losing my job, say – but also looking at where the opportunities might lie. Are there other ways I can leverage my skills? Am I happy doing what I’m doing? Is this an opportunity for me to drive change for myself? What really interest me at this point in my life and career? What are ALL the things that might be a part of my future?
The next step is, I realize I can’t do this myself. Number one, relying only on myself is not going to get me another job, and number two, I can’t possibly know all the options and opportunities out there. Likely, what’s going to happen next is something I would never be able to anticipate.
This is why my networks – all of them – are important to me. My networks keep me connected, visible, active and aware. Personally, in this respect, SLA is one of my strongest networks. I know SO many different people in different ways – and it’s one of the most helpful networks I have. I also know from my experience that it’s OK to ask for help from my SLA network.
Conversely, I make myself available to share my experience with my networks. “How can I help you?”
Lastly, I listen. I stay open to opportunities. I’ve had headhunters contact me for positions I never would have sought out, or even KNOWN to seek them out. I’ve been offered amazing opportunities in my organization that allowed me to not just build my skills, but also to increase my visibility and credibility in the organization. I’ve had people ask me to do work – paid work – which I never would have thought to offer.
At the 2010 SLA Conference, I was talking with a colleague who was in a new position, but was struggling with seeing the next step in her position and in her career.
“You want to know the secret?” I said. “When someone asks if you can do something, say ‘yes.’ Whether you think you have the ability or the knowledge or not at this moment, say ‘yes’. Because as an information professional, you have the skills to learn quickly, and the attention and insight to do well. You have the ability to turn yourself into an expert. And, more importantly, that person asked you because THEY think you can do it.”
When I think of ‘future ready’, this is what I think of: saying ‘yes’.
Scott Brown is the Owner of Social Information Group in Longmont, Colorado. Scott is SLA’s Division Cabinet Chair and has held past leadership roles in the Competitive Intelligence Division and Rocky Mountain Chapter.