By the measure of self discovery or contribution?
The big applause surprised me!
The master of ceremony had just finished my introduction. He had ended it by pointing out that I had worked for one organisation for over thirty years. The audience conveyed their appreciation with a big applause.
Such an introduction always ‘stumps’ me. These are the times when people do not serve an organisation for more than three or four years. They often talk of planning their next ‘career move’. Is it not then surprising that they should appreciate my staying with an organisation for three decades? I am trying to find an answer to this question.
I dread the question that follows from the audience ‘What made you spend almost the entire career with one organisation?’ I do not have a convincing answer.
I usually laugh it off blaming my laziness but nobody [and I included] believes it to be true. Perhaps that may be a wrong question to ask. The right question may be what did I gain or lose by working with just one employer for so long.
On the positive side I would say that the organisation brought some great personalities in my life; and my life was undoubtedly influenced by them positively. The organisation allowed me to be my ‘natural self’, to be authentic all the time which I value more than anything else. Some other persons were a joy to work with. The job allowed enough scope for contribution proactively. The bosses did not harbour absurd notions of ‘performance’ that makes life miserable in most organisations today. The sum total was a sense of growth, and yes, a sense of security.
On the negative side it is clear that I have not made as much money as some of my contemporaries have done. My ineptitude of managing money made the matters worse. But money was neither my criteria of achievement nor was it a cause for worry. I have often felt that my employer offered me too much of security. One learns when he is insecure. That feeling of insecurity keeps you always on your toes and alert.
The point I am making is that I may have discovered the limits of abilities [perhaps] in a more ‘testing’ situation. That would have been possible if I had changed jobs and exposed myself to various and different situations. Work after all leads to self discovery.
The question in my mind is ‘How would you judge whether your career is successful or otherwise? – By the measure of self discovery or contribution?’
Thinking about these issues is far more engaging and rewarding than finding the answer – if at all I can find it!
What do you think?
That is a very, if I might say so, corporate way of looking at life, ie. Evaluating yourself in terms of growth, ability to handle and solve crises successfully , money etc etc.
There are other criteria such as the ability to give time to, and be there (in a participative way), for your family whenever the need arises. A job that gives you the peace of mind to do so, is to be applauded. Growth cannot be viewed or restricted to your professional life and is intricately linked to your other life.
So the “contribution” is in multiple arenas in life, and the self discovery continues……
Its not a time to look back. But a great time to look ahead .
@ Ugich konitari:
I agree, I take your point. And what appealed to me most is the last line ‘Its not a time to look back. But a great time to look ahead’
I have spent hardly 5 yrs in one organization and I still face the same question as you do :).. because of which I have given it some thought..
You are dead right about the ‘too much security’ bit.. but that I think is a small negative.. the positives according to me are much in line with what you have mentioned… it allows me to be ‘me’ .. This I believe is most crucial in the journey of self-discovery since you cannot discover anything about yourself if circumstances and the environment force you to be someone else… and yes, along the way I would like to think that I have grown and contributed also..
Coming to your question, I would probably answer that it is by the measure of self-discovery… and I guess the contribution bit follows somewhat naturally as a result of self-discovery..
Sir, i particularly like the analogy of certain kinds plants growing in certain climes !
I guess this clime was the best suited for you ! And the need to seek out new climes and pastures didnt exist !
All the same, growth is about discovery. About challenge. About new heights to scale, new skills to mould, new lives to touch and new ways to touch old lives too !
And i believe that when i hit the bed, i hit it with satisfaction of work well done, something learnt, some soul left impacted, tired muscles & and a fulfilled soul, one doesnt have to look around.
That is ideed a tall order. But seems like you havent looked around either !
Winners don’t quit and quitters don’t win !
Hello Kavi, Amit and Bahirji Naik,
Thanks for your insightful comments.
As the wife of a person who is gets the itch to switch jobs every 3/4/5 years, I find your experience a very different one, And your insights into that experience will be definitely useful in future debates when the next change comes up.
Dear Patwardhan Saab,
Got curious about the comment around Terrorists and was channeled straight through to your blog. Any more commitment to the organization and AP will soon have terrorists of its own. This I say with great affection for an organization that I have spent more time fondly reminiscing about than working for.
My take on changing jobs frequently (I have some experience; 6 organizations in 15 years) would be as follows. Changing jobs earlier in career is great especially if you did not get the right break from Campus. You can work around and try get to the place you want to be professionally. Exposure to diverse cultures, steep learning curves and new people is an enriching experience.
However, I have come around to believe it is good to stay longer and manage the situation when your past decisions come to roost. In good old HR, every decision/choice you make/choose will come around to bite you. You can never be a seasoned campaigner without managing the consequences of the past decisions.
As life moves on and time is split between different priorities, the comfort offered by a well-worn office where you have earned your wings (read creditability) is a great asset.
In spite of all the positives though the lure of the next bright new job always tugs away …. It is all about timing.
Regards and Best Wishes
Hi D J,
Today is a holiday for us and the day could not have begun better. It feels so nice being in touch with you again after a long time.
Your views are well conveyed, but with you this discussion must happen over a glass of beer.
well said, I am working with the same organisation for last 26 yrs
This is something I wanted to ask you myself. My father has also served in the same organisation all his life – and his motivation has also been the feeling of security that the employer gave him.
But since you have mentioned that insecurity leads to learning, I would like to ask you:
1. Have you ever even considered working elsewhere ?
2. If you leave money out, have you ever felt that you would have been a “better” person if you had gone through different jobs ?
3. If you had a chance to start your career all over again, would you still do the same, i.e. work with the same employer?
That’s indeed a poking question, what exactly is one’s measure? And what’re the criteria of judging one’s success? This also reminds me of my father who worked for the same institution for well over three decades. IMHO, it is just insecurity guiding the decisions of job- jumping today, and also, years before when jobs were assured to be safe. Today’s job market is so competitive owing to society’s increased leaning towards capitalist tendencies, so it actually leaves one with no option but to watch out for one’s back.
So maybe it can be assumed that ‘success’ just cannot be measured in terms of job- flexibilies or even, longevities. Maybe, it’s a cumulative process of both self- discovery and contribution…
Thanks for broaching the topic, viveksa’ab:)
I have some theory which says that by the age of 35-40 you discover your career anchor and then flourish in that direction. Anchors read like Admninistration, innovation, Strategy roles, Adventure, Leisure and a few more ( Ref Schein). Then the shifting stops and you will stabilize in some role.
Thought provoking and a subject which is on my mind quite often. My career spanning 10 years has been spent in the same organisation. While my husband is always itching to change…I jokingly refer to it as the 2 years itch! And also add jokingly that we both nullify our diametrically opposite professional nature, my stability (most call it lack of ambition) and his quest for constant change!
Many of our friends and colleagues ask me in wonderment…”10 years??? Dont you think you need a change?”. I casually answer on a light note, that I’m boring and unambitious and this suits me fine…
In a way that’s the truth. I never craved for money. Somehow you can call it a reverse snobbery..but that’s what it was. And no I dont like change for the sake of change.
Some of my job-hopping friends, thsese days, say that at the end of it all, all organisations are the same..it’s all about perception and contentment.