Which combination is the right one for your successful career?
A big fish in a big pond?
A big fish in a small pond?
A small fish in a big pond? or
A small fish in a small pond?
Many career decisions are yours to make. Two of them are: How big a fish do you want to be, and how big a pond do you want to swim in? The implication for each decision is vast, as they require a totally different strategy, trajectory, skill set, experience base, education and performance model. Choose wisely.
First, you need to know a very great deal about yourself: What are your passions, ambitions, dreams, drive to succeed, and what are you willing to sacrifice to achieve your ultimate goal? These are hard questions, difficult to answer and usually with a short period of time in which to decide when a new job offer comes your way. Periods of indecision diminish your time to achieve your goal.
Here are some things you need to consider:
What is your comfort zone? Like your high school or college years, were you the most comfortable fit within a very large school or a small school? Some people like to be invisible within groups, while others move easily from group to group. Behaviors that are developed during your first 20 years are hard to change. Organizational size and culture can either accelerate your career or curtail it. Your comfort zone also determines stress levels and the ability to perform at your optimal.
What is your contributive value? Are you part of the mainstream of your organization? As an example, in a sales-driven company obsessed with revenue, if you aren’t in a revenue-generating role, it’s very difficult to become the top executive. It’s not that you don’t have the ability, but you don’t have the experience in the core function to lead a sales-dominated organization. Look at the current and past leadership of your current organization; find out where they came from to see if you’re a potential leader for the future.
Who are your mentors and followers? Are you a leader in your current organization? It’s almost impossible to rise in an organization without people helping to pull you up and others who help push you up. You need mentors to learn from; peers that will help you; and subordinates who want to follow you. Are you an Eagle who soars alone but can’t manage others? Are you a Team Player who can organize others to achieve high performance? Or are you a Stabilizer that makes sure everything is buttoned-up?
Fish and ponds come in all shapes and sizes. The sooner you figure out the best fit for you, the higher your career goal can be.
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