The title of last week’s blog was Brick and Mortar: Certified or Qualified? I compared bricks to certifications and qualifications to the mortar that holds the bricks together to build a solid career structure.
Walking through the smoke
The photo above was at a wildland fire in the jurisdiction I worked for. Notice the firefighters walking through the smoke. The smoke is acrid, stinging the eyes and making them water. Prolonged exposure may produce a headache from the carbon monoxide contained in the smoke. Visibility becomes difficult and more so when the smoke becomes thicker.
Many times, career development feels like walking through smoke.
The process of career development
In the fire service, many organizations provide a checklist or matrix of certifications the firefighter must follow to progress in their career. Some organizations include a task book as part of career development. In this process, the firefighter must complete each task in the book while under observation by someone of a higher rank or qualification. These steps compare to the bricks I wrote about.
The smoke of career development
Mortar is the substance holding the bricks together creating the structure. Last week I wrote that part of the mortar contains evaluated experience, wisdom, and judgment.
What about the rest of the mortar? What is that comprised of? Trying to answer those questions often creates the smoke of career development leading to frustration on the part of the person who seeks more.
Get out of the smoke
Just as it is not healthy breathing the smoke of a fire, it is not healthy trying to navigate the smoke of career development without assistance. You must step out of the smoke and gain clarity and control of your career.
How do you accomplish this? By first identifying the other parts of the mortar such as self-awareness, understanding human behavior, and how to better communicate. This also requires an understanding that personal development is an ongoing process and does not occur overnight1.
Reading books, articles, and blogs is a good practice, but you need to move beyond those single person activities as they only take you so far and at a slower pace of development. Attending leadership development and coaching seminars, workshops, webinars, and other training sessions involves a synergistic effect on your development. Using the services of a coach or mentor allows you to climb to higher levels and increases your impact on the lives of others.
1John C. Maxwell, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, (New York: Center Street, 2012), 10