March 7, 2022

Career X Calling – Part 2

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In Part 1 of Career x Calling, we noted four areas to focus on to have a great career – talent, skills, experience and education. Then we introspectively evaluated how our talent and skills can affect our careers. 

In this segment, we are going to leverage our experience to propel ourselves to our next level career.


Our experience may be defined as our practical contact with observation of events, people, places, and tasks. From that contact, the experience gained can either be beneficial or harmful. We can frame our experiences to be more beneficial by approaching it with a healthy mindset. 


A critical component in how we value our experience is the mindset that we place ourselves in prior to the experience.


  1. When we begin an experience with elevated expectations, we can set ourselves up to be more receptive to learn from it, be more attentive and be more receptive to positive outcomes from it.
  2. But if our elevated expectations are too lofty, we can quickly become disappointed and feel that the experience has less to offer and is not worthy of our attention or patience.
  3. And then if we set our expectations too low, we may feel resistant to putting in the effort or attention that will allow you to get the most from the experience.

In our careers, we may start or accept less than ideal positions. But from each position, there can be gems of learning experiences, potential to evolve the position or ways to set yourself for the position that you really desire. It all starts with the power of mindset within the experience. 

The power of our mindset can profoundly affect our experiences. However an experience may start or end, we are given a choice of how we can respond. We may not have control over the situation presented to us, but we have control over how we respond. Our response is our choice. This is the universal truth at the core of the Native American parableTale of the Two Wolves. So, which wolf are we feeding today? 

  • Aaron accepted a receptionist position at a logistics company early in his career. Initially Aaron was searching for marketing jobs but with his “limited” job experience, he was not attractive to hiring managers. For the sake of earning a living, he accepted the position and told himself he would keep looking for marketing job opportunities.
  • He had a choice on how we would approach the position – have low expectations of the role or be receptive to the opportunities and experiences from the position.
  • After starting the position, he soon realized that there wasn’t a dedicated position for marketing. The task fell to the bottom of the owner’s to do list – this was an opportunity to be seized. In his position, he went the extra mile to meet and offer insight to his coworkers and managers, provide above and beyond assistance to the owner when tasked, and positively reflect the values of the company to visitors and callers. In a year’s time his efforts were noticed and he was promoted to a marketing assistant position which eventually led to a Marketing Vice President role down the road. 

In this example, there was hidden opportunity for career growth in the experience. The position may not have directly been related to marketing, but Aaron was able to drive the experience to drive to grow into the marketing role he dreamed about.  

Always be willing to ask the question, is this the whole truth or is there more to the story? Taking time to use our critical thinking skills to evaluate the accuracy of the source’s information is a major tool for setting expectations that can be challenging but realistic. Sometimes our expectations are influenced by internal voices, hearsay from external sources, sensationalist 30-second pitches and internet headlines. We must resist the easy route of taking these pieces at face value and consequently building an experience on half-truths.


Embrace the experience and research both the motive of the writer and the facts from both sides of the story to get a fuller understanding of the information presented. This approach to research will help us get a more balanced view and may introduce us to new ideas and perspectives. As we broaden our perspective, we can examine what we just learned and take time to adjust some of our past beliefs. 

An employee has repeatedly started to arrive late to work. Management wanted to fire the employee. Instead, the employee’s supervisor sits down with the employee to find the whole truth and asks, “Why are you arriving late to work?”.

The employee responds that recently they began taking their children to school in the mornings. Their spouse had become sick with cancer and was unable to take the children to school any longer. The employee was struggling getting them out of the house early enough so that the employee wasn’t late to work.

Instead of firing the employee based on a half-truth, the supervisor supported them in finding a solution in the home routine so that everyone could arrive at work and school on time.

Before the experience, the employee may have seen their boss negatively, but the extra mile management style by their supervisor showed true leadership. This experience could lead to positive ripple effects on future performance. 

Most of us already have experiences that equip us for better jobs and greater responsibilities in the marketplace. For example:

  1. Has your experiences organizing events and parties demonstrated your ability to network or plan conferences?
  2. Has your experience writing papers for a research project prepared you for writing winning proposals?
  3. Has your pandemic experience balancing career and family prepared you for communication, research, managing people and negotiation in the workplace?

We must critically look at our experiences from a bird’s eye standpoint to see how those experiences already equip us for our career. 

As we go forward, may our healthy mindsets embrace our experiences, ask the smart questions and drive us into extra mile territory for our future successes. 

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