Last Friday, I attended a dinner party at which a colleague’s long-service at a certain august institution was celebrated. For the last forty-one years, and without any stoppage, this lady worked for one company. What I saw that evening was an accomplished yet humble woman – ‘service to the others’ was written all over her!
It is not common these days to find people that work at institutions for forty-one years. There are all sorts of reasons to justify why individuals can no longer serve for that long at one company; i.e. short product and service cycles at companies, shortening company life cycles, the millennial generation and their tendency to quickly get bored and impatient with values that don’t align with theirs, the demise of the collective bargaining culture, privatization and the dwindling civil-service numbers, etc
The truth is, those that have it in them can still work at the same company for many years. It may not be forty-one years like the subject of this blog, but at the same time, not the less than three years that has become the norm amongst the millennials
As I warmed my seat at the dinner party, I could not help but look at my so-called long service and the litany of achievements, but from a slightly different lens. I and I assume many at the dinner party, were humbled. Yes, I have done so much for the world and will continue to do so; however, my service is insignificant when compared to the lady’s forty-one years, and I explain why below:
- It dawned on me that this woman, started working before my fifth birthday – approaching my late forties now, I keep harping on about becoming of age and having done so much for the world; but have I?
- The lady has worked for one employer for forty-one years – we can’t assume that it was an all smooth ride; however, she stayed the course and her forty-one years were cause for celebration last Friday
- Staying the course when confronted with pressure – every day, I see a new generation of professionals, that expect Rolls-Royce landing and treatment at work. Over 91% of the Millennials will stay in a job for less-than-three-years. Apply a little bit of pressure on the millennials and the next topic on the table is ‘resignation’; don’t we all threaten to resign from time to time? Is it not true that in her forty-one years of service, this lady may have thought of quitting? If she did, how did she manage not to do so?
- Organisations, even the classic ones at that, will always have their bumps and will bump into you. If you can’t stay the course now and you decide to move on to your next professional stage, are you sure the new stage will be pressure-free?
- Whenever we change jobs to escape pressure at work, we need to ask ourselves if we more than the job are the problem
- There was so much to learn from the forty-one-year journey – yet, it took deeper reflection for one to extract the learning, but those that bothered to do so, had so many good lessons to take home
The career climb:
Those of you in the 25-40 year age bracket, please understand that this is the span of life when one’s professional career is firmly shaped; if it were a plane, the latter is the ‘climbing’ phase.
As a professional, do you have what it takes to sustain your career ‘climb’? Many prospective high flying careers have been thwarted at the climbing stage; the values tool-box of the current 25-40 year professional lacks certain soft fundamentals that are critical to sustaining a career climb.
Employees that serve their entities for forty-one years, let alone ten, are becoming a very rare commodity. Using the same aeroplane analogy, the lady that is the subject of this blog has been descending into her ‘airport’ for the last few years and successfully ‘landed’ last Friday.
I hope that we live long enough to see the ‘landing’ of the millennials – can they survive the turbulent climb?
We at the Effectiveness lab, believe that those that have been effective at delivering consistent value to organisations and for many years have a particular kind of mental agility.
A vocation is not something we find; it’s something we grow—and grow into.”
Indeed, Inc.com provides a rubric to stay the course at work, for the generation that is on a ‘career-climb’ phase:
Here are ten habits we would all do well to emulate.
- Control what you can before it controls you.
- Replace negative thoughts with productive thoughts.
- When the going gets tough, stay put.
- Stay committed but be flexible.
- Push yourself past your potential.
- Build your capacity for patience.
- Become aware enough to get outside of your mind and observe yourself.
- Think of yourself as a work in progress.
- Visualise what you want to achieve
- It is not about winning or losing but learning and growing
Do you have such habits?
It is the mentally tough people that the Effectiveness lab puts money on to stay the course and succeed at well-known companies; the mentally tough will successfully shape vocations as opposed to a career history
Well done lady for not only staying the course but for doing so for forty-one years!