Building Careers

Trajectory exercise, spanning time horizons

People talk about the difference between a job and a career. I do think there is a difference, but I think it’s mostly in the mind. The difference is intent. If you were to track their trajectories, a job would be a horizontal line and a career would be an upward trajectory that is, if done right, more exponential than linear. In the beginning, of these two trajectories, you can’t tell the difference. Only time would allow for that, so the the difference is how you’re thinking about it. Are you working just to get by, or are you working with intent towards personal growth?

Jobs just happen. Careers don’t just spontaneously happen. They have to be crafted and built with foresight and planning. When I build and run teams, I construct careers for/with them. The Most effective and driven people are those with a destination in mind. That destination can constantly change, but they always have one. Whenever I get a new teammate, I run through the following exercise with them in order to help them orient around intent.

I walk them through the process of evaluating their desires on a set of different time horizons. I might orient them with questions like:

What do you want to accomplish in life?

Where would you like to be in 5 years, if you could choose?

What would you like your life to look like this time next year?

How would you like this quarter to go?

What would your perfect month this month look like?

What are you trying to get done this week?

Ideally you get them to articulate to you their vision on the longest time horizon, but if they struggle with that you can zoom in more and more until they feel comfortable. Try to press them a bit before you narrow your scope though, because they’ll come up with the most compelling answers if the time horizon feels so long to them that it seems like anything could be possible. Once they articulate their vision, walk them through a logical step-down the rest of the way.

Given where you want to be in the next 5 years, what would you need to do by the end of this year to be on track towards that?

Given where you would need to be this year, what would you need to do this quarter to be on track for the year?

Given where you would need to get this quarter, what would you have to do this month?

Given the month’s target, what do you need to do this week?

Given the week’s target, what do you have to do today?

When you propagate your goals backwards from your greatest purpose for each step of different time horizon back to a daily purpose, you end up “stacking” your goals. When all of your goals are stacked, you change from being a single person working towards them to being an army. The you of the day works for the you of tomorrow works for the you of the month, year, and so on. That is how you create purpose. Now when you encounter a seemingly mundane task, it doesn’t bore you. Because you aren’t doing it just because it’s there, you’re doing it because it is a stepping stone towards your greater purpose. Suddenly the work is compelling, not via some nature of the work itself, but due to its impact in bringing you further along your chosen true path. 

Help each member of your team individually craft a bespoke vision for their life, and fold their role on your team today into that vision. This will help you understand them, it will help them understand themselves, and it will help you guide the ship in a way that achieves all of your mutual outcomes. You cannot skip this step and be effective. This honest sharing of intention and alignment of outcomes is essential to creating real human connections and building a world-class team.

Don’t just be a leader of teams, be an architect of careers.

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Copyright © 2023 Silicon Hemisphere, LLC

Copyright © 2023 Silicon Hemisphere, LLC

Copyright © 2023 Silicon Hemisphere, LLC