How to Stay Employable and Achieve Your Full Potential

I have a confession to make: I finished college and then university, defended a (I was told impossible) translation dissertation in front of a hard-nosed panel of professors, and completed successfully several professional and industry-specific accreditation and certification programs.

All the while working full time jobs. Starting with a very demanding non profit long term assignment overseas from my school at the beginning of my career.


Quitting what you started is not the only option to succeed at something you're passionate about. Even though it's become part of the story for so many aspiring entrepreneurs. Sticking with your commitments trains you for the sort of life-long grit, focus, and perseverance you will need to stay employable.

A promise kept is a good foundation for making better promises in the future.

Because a career is made of a series of strong connections — between your skills and preparation and the task at hand, your ability to problem solve and the types of opportunities it will attract, your capacity to learn constantly and collaborate with others and projects it will attract.

The nature of work has changed

When Tom Peters spoke about the new career being a series of projects a dozen years ago, I had already experienced the validity of that statement. I've been lucky, I find complex and unique challenges attractive, and I love learning, it's my number one strength.

Use your core values and strengths as the stock, and you can handle the hard parts, like translating your skill sets from one industry to another, finding your next gig in a difficult market or in a very competitive and crowded environment. 

Finding mentors, getting creative with resources — online and offline — joining mastery groups, participating in the generous give and take with other professionals, and taking advantage of opportunities when they present themselves all help you along.

However, don't expect anyone to tell you what to do, hand you the winning recipe, hand you the toolkit, or rushing to praise you for a job well done. You're building your own system, motivation and feedback included.

It's pull, not push.

Achieving your full potential

Is up to you. It's not suprising that the finding of a recent Gallup report would indicate 70 percent of work force is not engaged. From the site [hat tip Greg Sterling]:

According to Gallup's State of the American Workplace: 2010-2012 report,
employee engagement levels remain stagnant among U.S. workers. By the
end of 2012, as the U.S. inched toward a modest economic recovery, only
30% of American workers were engaged, or involved in, enthusiastic
about, and committed to their workplace

All kinds of organizations put in place programs to energize and engage employees for the simple reason that there is a cost associated with lost productivity. In a real-time world of social interactions that cost is rising.

We tackled the question of intrinsic motivation and drive. We looked at job resources for makers. Debunked the myth of isolated and inaccessible learning. Reviewed several useful resources and tips on how to learn the most critical of skills — that of communicating and presenting ideas effectively.

Achieving your full potential is within reach.

Staying employable is about mindset

As much as it is about skills and track record.

Our ability to grow depends upon our ability to shift from a fixed
mindset — we are who we are and our wins are attached to that identity
— to a growth mindset — tweaking the levers of heritage, environment, needs, and interactions to design, build,
and deliver ourselves

The fixed and growth mindset concepts come from the work of psychologist Carol Dweck in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (aff link).

If we review the Gallup's questions in light of this frame of reference, we find a different picture emerging. See if you can spot it.

They are part of the fixed mindset world, the reality of many organizations and the enterprise, where tasks are still broken down (resulting in silos) and defined to fit a worldview we are fast leaving behind, requests are prosecuted, and people are hired as spare parts.

Growth mindset at work

Change the questions and you change the stance:

  1. I know what I expect of me at work
  2. I collaborate with my teams to leverage and create the materials we need to do our work right
  3. At work I use my strengths to tackle projects
  4. In the last seven days I have contributed to delivering important work that moved the needle for my client(s)
  5. We have built an environment of respect and integrity with my peers and colleagues
  6. In this environment, we support each other by sharing resources, tips, and encouraging progress
  7. I continuously work on upgrading my skills and making my deliverables remarkable
  8. The organization is a mechanism to collectively close the gap between promises made and promises kept
  9. Team members adhere to a strong commitment to quality, focus, and discipline
  10. We make the time to build relationships
  11. We provide candid, constructive, and continuous feedback
  12. Learning and sharing knowledge is part of the organization's DNA

As I said in more than one instance here, change the conversation, and you change the game.  

Commitment increases leverage, so remember to care.




Valeria is an experienced listener. She is also frequent speaker at
conferences and companies on a variety of topics. To book her for a
speaking engagement click here.