A Blueprint to Choose Your Career Carefully


By Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D.


“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” — Confucius

Choosing your career is a challenging process. If you understand and adopt the right tools and techniques you will be able to succeed in your career and provide meaning to your life. People spend most of their time in the workplace. So, they must not compromise with their careers for the sake of money or other aspects. They must strictly follow their passions to enjoy in the work-place and ensure work-life integration.

You are a Gem!

Students often ask me questions about choosing their careers. I advise them to focus on their passions. I implore them not to go by parental and peer pressure. I advise them as follows: Find out what you want to be and how you want to be. Identify your passions and choose your career with 4As―attitude, aptitude, abilities, and awareness. Check your attitude toward the career. Identify whether you have the aptitude toward the career. Identify whether you have the abilities to pursue the career. Finally, have awareness about the career including potential, prospects, and problems. Here is a blueprint to build your career. Unlock your creativity. Identify the area where you are an expert to enjoy your career. Explore and experiment. Take risks. Do what you love to do. Follow your heart. Follow your dreams. Be an expert in networking with different domains to have a wider base professionally. You must have connections in the current world. The connection is also known as a network without which people cannot grow. There are many right people in the wrong place thus failing in their lives miserably despite having vast potential. If a raindrop falls into an ocean it loses its significance and if the same rain-drop falls into a shell it becomes a pearl. That is the major difference connections make!

Your Educators are Gemmologists

Undertake authentic online personality tests. Find out your passions. Consult a career counselor. Ask your educators, friends, and family members who can help you discover your hidden talents and strengths. Educators are the ideal advisors because they are the gemmologists and know how to identify the gems. Research has shown that most Nobel Laureates ascribed their success to their educators. They received timely advice from their educators in their early life. They followed the advice, explored, experimented, failed, learned lessons, and invented new things. So, appreciate the importance of your educators who are gemmologists.

Build Your Career Capital

There is a huge demand for the right talent in the corporate world. Unfortunately, the corporate world is unable to identify the right talent to grow from good to great. To get spotted with talent, you must know what is all about career capital. Career capital is the ability to build your career consistently to be marketable in the job market in the current global context. The days of permanent employment are gone. These are the days of permanent employability to enhance your professional success. Hence, employees need to build their career capital cumulatively by learning from various sources such as training and development, practical exposure, and pursuing courses.

Career capital is the true capital. It is a soft asset to employees paving the way for hard capital. Employees with career capital are constantly on the lookout for opportunities. They have strong business acumen and build a high internal locus of control. Additionally, they are in an advantageous position as employers cannot fire them. They believe in continuous learning and constant unlearning and relearning. They are confident in taking more risks to achieve great career success.

People may lose their financial capital whereas they will not lose their career capital as it goes with them throughout their lives. Some entrepreneurs lost their money but their knowledge brought them back on track and ensured their ultimate business success. For instance, renowned entrepreneurs including Elon Musk and Richard Branson staged a smart come back, even though they had financial setbacks for some time. Most of their friends gave up after their bankruptcy but these entrepreneurs learned lessons and through their knowledge, they regained their lost ground.

Presently millennials are highly ambitious and appreciate preferring a career to a job; and a career to money. They are willing to postpone their marriages and are ready to sacrifice their personal lives to build their career capital. They strongly believe that if their career capital is strong the rest of the things will fall into place. They crave coaches and mentors who can train and groom them into leadership roles and responsibilities. They appreciate continuous learning and constant feedback. They job hop as they don’t want routine. They want something different. Here is how you can build your career capital to strengthen your CV to fast-track your career:

  • Be specialized in a passionate area. Continuously work hard in it for 10,000 hours to excel as a professional. Malcolm Gladwell emphasizes that the key to high levels of success in any field is practicing a specific task for a total of about 10,000 hours. He uses the Beatles, Bill Gates, and himself-an an award-winning journalist, bestselling author, and venerated public speaker-as case examples for this “10,000 hours” rule. Hence, invest your precious time in your passionate area for 10,000 hours to become a successful professional and leader.
  • Research your area of interest regularly to stay ahead of your time. Blog to share your knowledge. Write articles and research papers and get them published in prestigious publications.
  • Acquire new skills and abilities regularly. Share your knowledge and network with others to get to know the happenings.
  • Showcase your skills and abilities regularly. Participate in conferences, meetings, and trade meetings to interact with the professionals from your domain.
  • Come out of your comfort zone to explore new areas in depth. Acquire breadth of knowledge in diversified areas and depth of knowledge in your core area to build your career capital as well as your brand.
  • Develop the attitude as a ‘consultant’, rather than as a ‘contractor’. The knowledge workers fall in the category of consultants while the manual workers fall in the category of contractors. It is the knowledge workers who emphasize more on career capital and it is the consultants who emphasize more on career capital. The champions of career capital treat it as a true currency rather than the conventional monetary currency.

Career capital is a unique blend of soft and hard skills and soft and hard acumen. It is a judicious mix of your self-management skills, domain-related skills, and transferable skills. This capital helps you fast-track your career and catapult you to senior leadership positions including CEO. Hence, build your career capital brick by brick clearly, cautiously, and consistently to shortlist your employer and to succeed as a leader.

Shortlist Your Employer

If you are meritorious and are equipped with employability skills, you can shortlist your employer. If you are equipped with hard and soft skills, you can shortlist your employer. If you acquire the right mindset, skillset, and toolset, you can shortlist your employer. If you are equipped with self-management skills, job-related skills, and transferable skills, you can shortlist your employer. Hence, shortlisting your employer is an easy task if you are equipped with adequate knowledge, skills, and abilities, and are employable and deployable in the corporate world.

Love Your Employability, not Your Employer

Some of the employees in private organizations love their employers to safeguard their employments. They flatter their employers and pass on the information of their colleagues to their employers to be in their good books. They think that it is a way of demonstrating their loyalty to their organizations. In fact, what they must understand is that they must love their employability, not their employers.

Employers appreciate employees who are committed and dedicated. They don’t appreciate flatterers and informers. Of course, they need informers among the employees who can pass them with genuine information about other employees to safeguard their organizational interests. It is known as informal communication which often serves as feedback for the employers.

In the present context, employers are very serious and they respect the employees who deliver their goods properly. They appreciate the employees who add value to their organizations. The true employees work sincerely and deliver the goods as per the expectations of their employers. It adds value to their resumes and enhances their employability. There is no permanent employment but only permanent employability. To ensure your permanent employability, you must regularly update your knowledge, skills, and abilities. You must learn, unlearn and relearn with the changing times and technologies. This approach enhances your employability. It leads to earning respect from your employer and safeguarding your employment as well. If there is any problem with your present employer due to organizational politics you will be in great demand elsewhere as you are already equipped with employability skills. Other employers are eagerly waiting to absorb you. Hence, love your employability, not your employer.

Most employees have hard skills which are also known as technical skills and domain competence. But they fail to express them properly due to the dearth of soft skills. Soft skills are all about how you convey your hard skills. They help you fast-track your career. Remember, you are hired because of your hard skills and fired due to a dearth of soft skills.

Explore Opportunities to Excel as an Entrepreneur

Currently, the world is shifting from internet technology to data technology. According to Gartner, big data is high-volume, velocity, and variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing for enhanced insight and decision making. There are innumerable opportunities in data technology. The millennials and centennials must shift their mindset accordingly and explore opportunities to excel as entrepreneurs.

No Such Thing as Overnight Success

When you look at Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Elton John, and Angelina Jolie, they pursued their passions and worked hard in their professions before becoming successful. Most people think that successful people are lucky. Of course, luck is a minor portion. The major portion was investing their efforts and energies in their chosen areas consistently for many years.

There is nothing like an overnight success. You must work hard, smart, and wise to be successful. You must invest your efforts in your passionate area for many years. People are often disconnected from the realities because of technology and social media. They want instant success. The fact is that instant success may lead to instant disaster. Appreciate the fact that overnight success is an exception, not a rule. Successful people planted seeds, watered the seeds, and saw the seeds growing into plants and trees. Therefore, make the right choices every day. Stay on your game. Keep going for your dreams.

Success is a Marathon, not a Sprint

If you achieve success with a solid base, you can sustain your success. People often lose motivation when they don’t get immediate outcomes. The fact is that you must work hard to achieve success in your life. So, achieve success in such a way that you sustain and grow steadily to add value to others. The world needs that special gift you only have. Slow and steady wins the race. Achieve success with integrity.

Persistence Pays  

It is always the average people with extraordinary persistence who succeed in this world. When you look at Thomas Alva Edison, Colonel Sanders, and Alexander Graham Bell, they all succeeded due to their persistence. They persisted when there seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel. John C. Maxwell once remarked, “When water boils at 212 degrees, but at 211 degrees, it is still just hot water. One extra degree, an increase of less than one-half of one percent, can make the difference between a pot of languishing liquid and a bubbling cauldron of power. One degree can create a full head of steam – enough power to move a train weighing tons. That one degree is usually momentum.” Therefore, don’t give up when you are close to victory. Take your battle to its logical end. Don’t get carried away by failures. Continue your work with optimism relentlessly and consistently to accomplish your goals.

Reinvent Your Career 

“There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart… pursue those. The moment that any life, however good, stifles you, you may be sure it isn’t your real life.” —A. C. Benson

The tools and techniques that helped you come up to the present level may not help you scale to reach your next higher level. You must change your methods and style of approaches from time to time. Don’t get complacent with your achievements. The current world demands learning, unlearning, and relearning. You must reinvent from time to time to get updated and to excel in your life. To summarize, be careful while choosing your career and your spouse. If you choose your career carefully you enjoy during the working hours. If you choose your spouse carefully you enjoy yourself after working hours. So, don’t compromise with your career and spouse to ensure work-life integration and lead your life mindfully and meaningfully. To conclude, invest your precious life in the career you love and believe in.

About the Author

Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D.

Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D. is the Father of “Soft Leadership” and the Founder of MSR Leadership Consultants, India. He is an International Leadership Guru with forty years of experience and the author of fifty books including the award-winning See the Light in You’ URL: https://www.amazon.com/See-Light-You-Spiritual-Mindfulness/dp/1949003132. He is a C-Suite advisor and global keynote speaker. He brings a strategic eye and long-range vision given his multifaceted professional experience including military, teaching, training, research, consultancy, and philosophy. He is passionate about serving and making a difference in the lives of others. He is a regular contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine. He trains a new generation of leaders through leadership education and publications. 



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