by Jeff Shore
Experts through the years have plotted product life cycles in many ways. Basically, they all look similar to this:
The Palm Pilot in my desk drawer certainly seems to validate this concept of the product life cycle. It was all the rage back in the day – a completely revolutionary device. But the day Steve Jobs announced the new iPhone, the writing was on the wall.
Now suppose for a moment that you were a product. Where would you plot your own career on the product life cycle continuum? Are you still a start-up? Are you on the decline? Or somewhere in between?
Be careful how you answer that question. Because if you said “Maturity” you’d best have a look at what happens next.
If you wish to avoid the inevitable, then you will need to do something radical. In fact, you might want to find a new curve altogether.
I am not suggesting it is time to quit your job, but it might be time to think of your career in a new, fresh and exciting way.
Curve jumping takes place when we shift our thinking. It is most effective when we leverage the best aspects of our present curve and find new opportunities by adopting a new paradigm.
The alternative is to allow your career to unfold by default, typically being dictated by someone else.
In this case, before you determine how you want to jump the curve, it’s important to tackle the topic of legacy. Specifically your legacy and what you want it to look like.
A wise man once said, “Start where you want to end up” and that thinking will help you here. Where do you want to end up at the end of your career and what legacy do you want to leave?
What do you want others to remember about you? What mark do you want to make? What ding do you wish to put in the universe?
Here are four examples of defining a legacy. These are just examples and there are certainly many more paths to pursue:
1. Moving from Manager to Mentor
Managers execute on plans. Mentors change individual lives. Management is about getting things done efficiently and effectively. Mentoring is about helping people to grow, prosper and flourish.
Which sounds more exciting to you? It might be time for a radical shift in your own priorities, away from tasks and in favor of people.
2. Moving from Implementer to Innovator
So many managers are really just taskmasters, enslaved to their own to-do lists (knowing that the items on that list were likely placed there by others). Innovators invent the tasks, and they do so from a perspective of what really matters.
It’s not about what keeps them out of trouble; it’s about making an impact. Innovators feel driven by the idea that we never fully live until we fully engage our creative mind and bring new ideas to life.
3. Moving from Presentist to Futurist
Too many executives are reactionary to the present, but that doesn’t provide much of a legacy. Great leaders excel at reading the tea leaves and seeing what happens next.
They are dot-connectors, and as such they are planning for the future before it arrives. They stand out before they need to stand out.
4. Moving from Sales Leader to Executive Leader
Some of the best CEOs, Presidents and Executive Vice Presidents I’ve ever worked with came up through the sales and marketing ranks. That makes so much sense when you think about it; sales and marketing touches every corner of the business.
Perhaps that is your aspiration as well – good on you! Now who do you need to talk to? What do you need to learn? How do you need to grow?
What do you want your legacy to look like? And on which curve will that legacy be found?
We’re going to spend more time focusing on the topic of legacy and career trajectory at my annual Sales Leadership Summit: Level Up 2015.
I hope that you will join us in Chicago on September 10-11 as we take a journey into the future – your future – to define what excellence and success look like in the next level of your career.
Change your paradigm …and change your world!