There are loads of articles, tips and discussions on how to pursue a successful career. I believe that a career should be “good for you”. It cannot be “successful” or “unsuccessful” in general, according some criteria set by society or media.
If you stop for a minute, I think you would all agree: we have all met passionate plumbers and miserable plumbers. Great CEOs and suffering CEOs. We can all recall our own teachers who loved their job and left a mark on our lives. Some of the dull teachers we can hardly recall.
And further – have you ever met someone who is telling you something about their career and you get the feeling that something just doesn’t feel right? While observing and listening you get a feeling that the words or the picture does not match the feeling you have?
I think a lot depends on the integrity. As individuals we can all analyze ourselves (and are perceived by others) while thinking about our visible behaviors, expressed beliefs and internal motives which are usually more difficult to understand. Likewise, thinking about integrated career we can think how well the following fit together:
- career related behaviors and visible elements of career (what job do we have, how we manage our career, how we own our professional role).
- expressed career related believes or values (what are our values that we claim to to stick to) and
- deep unconscious motives, that are likely to drive our career. To learn about these much deeper reflection is required (what are the real deep motives driving my career, forming the connections, etc).
You would hardly get a feeling of integration while talking to someone who would say that “development is so important in their professional life” if you cannot remember them being proactive in any developmental activities. You would not get a feeling of integration while talking to a manager who is claiming how innovative they are, if you observe that the only goal they have is to do what is crucial during their working hours and their passion is planning their next vacation where there will be freedom from all their work related “suffering”. You would hardly get a feeling of integration while talking to a professional who would claim that a lively career path and change are the most important things in their professional life, but you observe them staying in the same position for 15 years with a resistance to change when some new opportunity can be reached.
So I believe that some of the above careers might look successful externally but I would be interested to know how the owners of these careers feel. I believe integration of behaviors, values and inner assumptions creates integrity in our careers. Well integrated careers feel like successful ones to me. The third element – inner assumptions – might be the most difficult to illuminate. This underlines importance of reflecting on yourself for successful, well integrated career.