To Survive the Recession, Become a Career Athlete

To Survive the Recession, Become a Career Athlete

Author
Peter Weddle

In order to achieve true career security in today's tough times, we must re-imagine ourselves as "career athletes." We must see ourselves as a new breed of worker-champion. Our model is not that of the athletes engaged in professional sports, but rather, the athletes who are most like us. Worker-champions are the workplace version of Olympians, at least Olympians as they were originally envisioned. These champions are not amateurs; they are athletic activists.

Such athletes have a number of special attributes:

They decide where and when they will exercise their physical abilities and under what conditions. It might be jogging around the neighborhood or playing in a tennis tournament, but they determine the content and duration of their activity.

They love the doing of it and are energized and fulfilled by that activity. It strengthens and conditions them, exhilarates and rewards them, and leaves them with a pervasive sense of physical and psychological well-being. Indeed, athletic endeavor can actually create a pleasurable physiological response-what is sometimes called a "runner's high"-that replenishes the spirit as well as the body.

A successful athlete continuously strives to excel and then extend the limits of their performance. There is no end to their effort because they believe there is no limit to what they can achieve.

Athletics are a democratic activity. All of us have a body, so all of us have the inherent ability to engage in and enjoy physical activity. Sure, some of us will perform better than others, but all of us can be athletes, and all of us can reach for and attain the peaks of our own personal excellence.

  • They are independent
  • They are passionate about their sport
  • Their goal is to be the best they can be in their chosen sport
  • They can be anyone

Career athletes are also not amateurs; they are career activists. Their attributes are identical to those of athletes engaged in sports:

Career athletes decide where and when they will work and under what conditions. It might be for one employer rather than another or as an independent contractor, but they determine the content and duration of their activity.

They love the doing of it and are energized and fulfilled by it. It strengthens and conditions their self-expression, exhilarates and rewards their personal growth, and leaves them with a pervasive sense of mental and emotional well-being. Indeed, a career athlete's work can actually create a pleasurable physiological response-what is sometimes called "flow"-that replenishes the spirit as well as the body.

A successful career athlete continuously strives to excel and then extend the limits of their performance. There is no end to their effort because they believe there is no limit to what they can achieve.

Career development is a democratic activity. All of us have a mind, so all of us have the inherent ability to engage in and enjoy the work we do with it. Sure, some of us will perform better than others, but all of us can be career athletes, and all of us can reach for and attain the peaks of our own personal excellence.

  • They are independent
  • They are passionate about their field of work
  • Their goal is to be the best they can be in their profession, craft or trade
  • They can be anyone

We can't become successful career athletes, however, by simply stating our intention to do so. We also can't rely on serendipity or depend on fate or good fortune, and we certainly can't look to our employers to make it happen. We won't transform ourselves into career activists by wishful thinking or by being loyal and dependable and showing up for work every day.

There is only one sure way to establish ourselves as genuine career athletes, and that's to practice Career Fitness. This concept is based on two lessons all of us have learned about our physical health. From our earliest days as a child, we are taught that:

  • Each of us is individually responsible for the well-being of our own bodies
  • We must work at strengthening and protecting our physical well-being every single day.

These responsibilities are nontransferable and nonnegotiable. When we ignore them, we harm ourselves; and when we accept them, we better our lives.

In the 21st Century workplace, the same facts of life apply to our careers as well:

  • Each of us is individually responsible for the well-being of our own career
  • We must work at strengthening and protecting the health of our career every single day.

These responsibilities are also nontransferable and nonnegotiable. When we ignore them, we harm our standard of living; and when we accept them, we better the quality of our lives.

Career Fitness enables us to become career athletes and face down the bullies among our employers. It gives us a new vision for our work and the fortitude and self-confidence with which to redesign the nature of our employment. It transforms the reality of our workplace experience. It alters the possibility in our lives from simple survival to prosperity and fulfillment.

Career Fitness will restore us – it will give us back what many of us have lost: our belief in the American Dream-but it will not recreate the past. It will not bring back the gold watch or a workplace built on (seemingly stable) career ladders. Instead, Career Fitness enables us to re-set the conditions of our future. It empowers us to end the abusive behavior of bad employers and to reach for the extraordinary occupational goals that each and every one of us is naturally capable of achieving. It liberates us to claim our right to full citizenship in the American workplace as well as in the American polity. Ultimately, Career Fitness gives us the vision and the tools to transform our work into a personal and potent pursuit of happiness.

Formerly the Chairman and CEO of Job Bank USA, Peter Weddle is an
HR consultant, recruiter, author and commentator with an international
reputation. He has authored or edited more than two dozen books,
including "Recognizing Richard Rabbit: A Fable About Being True to
Yourself", "Work Strong: Your Personal Career Fitness System" and
"WEDDLE's 2009/10 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet". In
addition, he oversees WEDDLE's, a print publisher specializing in the
field of human resources. WEDDLE's annual Guides and Directory to job
boards are recognized for their accuracy and helpfulness, leading the
American Staffing Association to call Weddle the "Zagat of the online
employment industry." Peter Weddle is also CEO of the International
Association of Employment Websites.

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