First published in Business2Community
The recent news that my old company, Microsoft, is going to lay off 18,000 people made me shudder. This economy is brutal. Yet, though I’m sure that each of those 18,000 people will have a horrible experience in the short term, I am fairly confident that most of those former “Softies” will soon get back on track in their careers. People with good tech industry skills tend to get new jobs readily.
What about the rest of us, especially those of us on either side of the big five-O? I think the news is good there is good too, if we are ready to focus on why we will triumph financially despite a bad overall economy. It’s easy to get discouraged. Believe me, I’ve been there! But, if you need some inspiration, let me share 10 reasons why you’re going to succeed today:
1) You have drive – Children of the 50s, 60s, and 70s have drive. We are the last remnant of America’s great industrial age. We all carry within us a vision of personal greatness. We know what it means to have personal drive, to want to make things happen to further our success. The way we get from here to there may be different from what it was two decades ago, but the drive remains with us.
2) You have commitment – If you’ve gotten anywhere career-wise in the last thirty years, it’s because you are committed to your own success. This can also mean that you’re committed to your employer’s success. These things run together. The challenge for late boomers and gen-xers is to transform our earlier commitment to a loyal corporate employer to today’s new work constructs. In the old days, if you were committed to your job, your job was committed to you. That’s less true today, but the basic formula still applies. If you commit to your contractor/gig/employer success as a way of committing to your personal success, you will see positive results.
3) You have skills – One of the big disempowerments for mid-life workers today is an incessant message that our skills are out of date. There is some truth to this. We may not be digitally native, but we have skills. The truth is that core work skills never fade. Selling is selling, regardless of how you find and connect with customers. Operations management is operations management, regardless of where the facilities are and how they are linked. The challenge for us is to adapt our core skills to new technologies and modes of working.
4) You have work experience – We’ve been around the corporate world, and that’s a good thing for our personal success long term. Our challenge is to understand how our experience of different organizations and business cycles can be expressed to our advantage in seeking new work. We have knowledge of how things work in business that transcends anything that a younger person can possibly understand. This can be our strength.
5) You have life experience – We’ve also been around in life, and that can give us valuable tools for finding and succeeding in work situations. Knowing how to deal with people, recognizing consumer trends, having some maturity in the workplace – these are all assets if we communicate their value to potential employers.
6) You have a network – You may not think your network is very good, but it is probably stronger than you realize. The question is always “What can I offer to my network?” The answers have changed over the years because the structures of employment have evolved. For example, you might be able to offer your network opportunities to freelance, versus finding full time positions. But, the dynamics of networking remain the same.
7) You have a vision for yourself – We can’t make our skills, experience, commitment, and network propel us to financial succeed if we can’t envision what that success looks like. The issue is that paths to financial success today look different from what the way they were a generation ago. Yet, they are very much there for us if we can understand our true value in the workplace and align our vision with our true selves
8) You’re willing to be flexible – This may not be the news we want to hear, but work success today depends on attaining a degree of flexibility. Market cycles are far shorter than they used to be. Projects, teaming, and organization structures shift rapidly – probably too rapidly for anyone’s good – but that’s reality. We have to be flexible to go along with it if we want to succeed financially in today’s business environment.
9) You’re ready to learn – Yes, we still have things to learn. It’s not just technology that’s compelling us to learn new skills and work patterns. We have to be ready to learn whole new businesses and ways of doing business. For example, virtual teaming with colleagues scattered across the map, collaborating on instant messenger, is one of the new ways that work gets done. If we want to move forward today, we have to master new skills.
10) You’ve empowered yourself to succeed with your true talents – Ultimately, succeeding in today’s difficult economy is about finding personal empowerment. This isn’t a nebulous fantasy. It’s about bringing together the power that’s within you as described in the previous nine points. When you align and synergize your skills, experience, network, personal vision, willingness to learn and be flexible – then, you’ll find that you’re empowered for greatness despite anything the economy can throw at you.