Who can improve on What Color Is Your Parachute, the all-time best-seller in the careers field? Who other than the cofounder/chairman of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman.
From his lofty seat at the top of the top professional network in the world - through which daily flow valuable job postings, job searches, candidate searches, and networking requests - Reid has a unique vantage point for observing the life cycle of careers in 2012.
Along with his co-writer, Ben Casnocha, he brings into question the idea that each of us has a specific calling that requires only that we discern the color of our particular parachute to know what we should do with our life. This prevailing cultural myth is challenged, and rightly so in my opinion, by Reid's particular insight into the way most people's careers actually develop.
Sure, we've all heard of people who knew from a young age knew that they would be a president of the United States (Bill Clinton), or a composer (Mozart). But most of us, especially as the days of staying with one company for 30 years or more are long gone, follow a winding path where the twists and turns may take us to someplace we never thought of to a job we could never have envisioned.
He gives a number of examples of well-known people, himself (started out planning to work in academia), Tony Blair (started as concert promoter), Sheryl Sandberg (COO Facebook started in public health at the World Bank), and others who have found their way following a different dynamic.
Reid says that careers develop according to the interaction of your assets, your aspirations, and market realities. And that where we end up can be very different from where we started. He also says that often you can perceive an inner logic to the journey. (This may be more where we see Richard Bolles' ideas than anywhere else.)
The book, The Startup of You, is a must-read for anyone charting their career. I believe Reid's ideas have long been true, but technology is currently changing careers, industries, even functions at an accelerated rate. Although somewhat complex, Reid's remarks will help you keep your eyes open to signals of change both within yourself and in the world at large.
His perspective may also take some of pressure off for those who are frustrated trying to look deeply within to discover their purpose. I see the process he describes as more like a white water rafting trip than a fishing trip in search of a particular gold coin.
We each, in our own wonderfully unique way, find a twisting path that is both our own and profoundly influenced by our world. If we are lucky, each stage of the journey holds a fulfillment of its own while providing us with strengths that can transform the next leg of the trip.
I'm a believer, in part, because his observations have been true in my career: teacher of children with learning disabilities, handweaver, careers professional. ?? I think I know why I made those shifts. If anyone is interested, I'd be happy to tell them. But what has been your path? What has influenced you in your career decisions? Do you know where you will turn next? I'd love to hear.