Measuring life as you know of it

I had no clue who Clayton Christensen* was – until his death last week. Since then, I have been reading about him & his work and learning about disruptive innovation. What stays back with me is his take on measuring life, success, and what we make of it. His theories and insights on what makes us happy at work holds tremendous meanings for all of us associated with the PR & Communications business. We talk of ROIs for our work but what about an ROI for yourself? Here is my own take from a few of his teachings that can make us reflect on where we are today in our careers.

Are you growing?

Most of us think that money is the driver to choosing a particular job or sticking with one. It is not. What is most important is the opportunity to grow and learn new things. Ask of yourself – how long has it been for you in the same role, doing the same things inside out? Life and success is measured through the different things you do, the opportunities that you sometimes need to create for yourself and opportunities that you sometimes need to literally snatch and hold on to. The fundamental to all of this is of course having the courage to let go of your comfort zone.

“Courage and comfort never go together”

It is always the first step that is difficult. Remember you are not alone. It took me almost 3 years to take a decision to move out of the comfort of a government job. I oscillated everyday. The anxiety ate me up. I felt I didn’t have it in me to try something new. Until I actually did it. Go, take that first step. Speak to your manager. Your friend. Reach out to your network. Make that move to grow.

What are you doing about your skill/s?

Since you are now reflecting on your career journey, ask another question – what are you doing about your skill/s. What new skill have you picked up recently? What was that one thing you worked on diligently so as to bring about a change in your career? As communicators, we all know the importance of story telling. How skilful are you at it? Whom do you admire most here? What tips have you picked up from him/her? When was the last you honed this skill of yours? 

“Acquiring knowledge is like a progressive discovery of one’s ignorance”

Take writing…by consciously making a choice to contribute every week here, I work every week on my writing. I read, I contemplate on what will excite my readers. I am full of anxiety – what if what I write is all bakwas and makes no sense? No amount of writing takes away the initial anxiety. I have so much more to learn and share. What are you doing about your skill set?

What is your purpose?

Last week I attended a Master Class in ‘Reputational Risk & Management.’ After being in the business for over three decades, my hunger to listen to experts who have witnessed crises and have important lessons for us to learn from is insatiable. I was very disappointed with the thin attendance. Our learning through sharing and knowledge should never cease. That is a golden rule you must make for yourself. The session with a legal expert who spoke of how communications and legal are bond at the hip was the most mesmerising. To have legal acknowledge the value we communicators create through our messaging was a hurrah moment.

“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you are tiny matters in comparison to what lies inside of you”

As communicators, we work with the ‘purpose’ of our business day in and out. Most of our key messages are centred around the purpose statement of our corporations. Yet, very few of us spend some time reflecting on our own purpose in our career journey and the value we bring on the table. Create your own purpose statement and draw your career trajectory accordingly.

* Clayton Christensen (1952-2020) was an American academic & business consultant who served as the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Sarita Bahl is an alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Sciences and the Swedish Institute of Management Program. An experienced and versatile leader, she comes with nearly four decades of professional experience. She has over the years successfully overseen the communications and public affairs function and led the corporate social responsibility strategy for Bayer South Asia, Pfizer, and Monsanto, among others. Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, the public sector, trade associations, MNCs, and the not-for-profit sector. Her areas of interest include advocacy, stakeholder engagement, sustainability, and communications.

As an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) from the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and Senior Practitioner (Mentoring) from the European Council of Mentoring and Coaching (EMCC), Sarita specializes in career transition, inner engineering and life issues. Sarita enjoys writing and is passionate about animals, books, and movies.

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