A powerful career tip that will grow on you


I’ve just made a major career blunder. Luckily, I caught myself just in time. Please — don’t make the same mistake! You can take the learning from this without going through the lesson yourself. Here it is.

I quit my big corporate job 18 months ago. I had a clear plan on what I wanted to build next. As soon as my six month’s ‘gardening leave’ was over, I hit the pavements with a bang! I networked like mad, gave speeches, wrote articles, went on Awards committees, MC’d major conferences. I was everywhere. The work literally poured in. Requests from far and wide for help. I said ‘yes’ to just about every one of them.

Here’s the rub. I did exactly what I advise others starting out again not to do. “Be selective,” I counsel. “Only take on what you really want to do. Keep yourself available for the right opportunities.

You see, I was secretly paralysed with fear. Was I still valuable? Wanted? Current? Also, my ego wanted to make damn sure the former colleagues who were watching me (I now realise no-one was — they had all moved on pretty damn smart!) would see me powering ahead. “Wow! What a guy! Look at him fly.

I got very busy. The cash register was ringing loud and often. I flew around the world, several times. The phone kept ringing. Then I got to the Cannes Creativity Festival in June. And I kind of had a melt down. No yelling, panic, or rants. Just a deep sadness.

I was failing.

What? But I was making more money than expected — much more. I was in demand. I was on fire!

I was failing.

My health was failing. My most valuable relationships were under pressure. I was neglecting the most important things. They were signs.

And professionally, I just was not having fun. That was the key. It was a struggle. And it was a struggle because many of the assignments I was accepting were just not ‘natural’ to me. I could do them, well, but they were clunky. I had to kind of make it up a bit to deliver the goods. My heart sank when I saw they were on my agenda for the day. They were outside my flow. They were just not a great fit.

That’s when I realised the true value of this wonderful advice I got a couple of years ago. And now, I’ve actually taken it.

Grow where you are planted.

Stick to the businesses and markets you know best. Let yourself flourish where you are genuinely in your flow — where you are really good at what you are doing, and you love doing it.

I returned from Cannes and immediately did two things.

First, I went to see a doctor. That’s another story for another day. But — bottomline — progress!

Then I resigned about 50% of the clients and revenue I had just spent the past nine months working so hard to secure and build. No kidding. Half of my income. Kapow! It has frightened the preverbial out of me — but it had to be done.

I had to slow it down. I had to travel less. I had to focus on what was natural to me. I had to grow where I am planted.

I’m a month in — and there’s a spring in my step. I look at my diary, and my heart lifts. I’m inspired, and having fun! And all that in one month of change. The cash register has gone a lot quieter, but I know that is temporary. The results will be awesome. Just watch (Okay —I know, I know — no-one is watching. Move on now…).

So — here’s my question for you and your role right now: Are you growing where you are planted?

Are you working in a role and with an ambition that is natural to you — that is in your element: you are good at it, and love doing it?

Or are you working in your ‘struggle’ — as I was for the past nine months….not all of my role, but 50% of it.

Get very real. Tell yourself the truth. And if you are not growing where you are planted, do something about it. Deal?


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