The necessity of continually reinventing yourself in a Digital Age
It’s possible you currently find yourself at a crossroads — that the pandemic has derailed your career path. Believe me, when I say I’ve been there. I’ve had to make multiple career changes in my lifetime.
Only a few years ago, the founder of the company I was working for told me my role was no longer needed. To add insult to injury, he replaced me with my wife (now ex-wife).
Rather than immediately looking for a job with another company, I realized that I had been presented with the opportunity of reinventing myself as myself. Because no matter what job I took, I knew I worked for myself first. I was simply making MY services available to the company, even if they treated me as a full-time employee.
The following three steps were tremendously instrumental in helping me reinvent myself and create a new career. My hope is you will find them useful as well.
Step 1: Find Something You’re Passionate about that Makes You Money
We’ve all heard the phrase: “Follow your passion.” There’s a nugget of truth in it, but if you are anything like me, my passions involve activities like playing board games, book reading, and watching movies. I’m not sure who is willing to pay me for those, but if you know someone, please send them my way!
My advice is to identify something you are passionate about AND brings value to others.
Finding your passion is about finding a way to make a difference, even if you are only impacting a small audience.
There’s an analogy some of you may recognize that illustrates this principle:
An older gentleman is walking on the beach one morning. And, he sees a young boy picking up starfish along the beach and throwing them back into the ocean and asks, “What is it that you are doing, young man?”
“I am picking up starfish and throwing them back in the ocean before the sun comes up and they die,” the young boy replied.
“But there are thousands of them, and there’s no way you will make much of a difference.”
As the young boy reached down and threw another starfish back in the water, he grinned and looked back at the older gentleman: “It made a difference to THIS starfish.”
Make a difference, even if it is only for one person.
Step 2: Identify Your Tribe and Give to Them
In Seth Godin’s renowned book, Tribes, he talks about the millions of people and groups looking for leaders. They’re looking for someone to teach them, guide them, and give them direction. The person they are looking for is YOU.
Find a network that could benefit from your knowledge and passion. Listen to people’s problems until you find a problem you can fix or a challenge that you can help them overcome.
Consider all the social media platforms there are available for you to find your tribe!
Once you find your tribe, be sure to add value to that group. Give your time and expertise, share your connections, and build a network; contribute what you have to offer.
Pretty soon, that tribe will give back to you. They’ll give you their attention, their interest, their loyalty, their money, their time, and their endorsement.
Leadership is a two-way exchange.
Step 3: Discover and Master the Tools Necessary, aka Just Do It!
You can only watch so many YouTube videos and read so many blogs before you just gotta jump in! Experience is an excellent educator and failure the best educator of all!
Find a safe place to practice. When I wanted to learn about social media, I found groups on various social platforms where it didn’t matter if I screwed up. I became active and started asking questions. I learned, I listened, and I practiced.
Don’t fall into the trap of “practicing” for long. You must put yourself on stage before you think you’re ready. Again, hands-on experience is the most effective way to learn.
For example, when I wanted to learn how to write a book, I wrote my first one before I knew “how.” It wasn’t the best book, but I was experimenting. And, it led to my new book, Digital-First Leadership, which offers life-changing advice on how to master social media, build an online presence, and lead your tribe.
Even with my current podcast, “Digital-First Leadership,” I practiced by launching a previous podcast around my passion for Kickstarter and board games. I learned the ropes along the way, and now my current podcast is streaming on all major listening platforms.
We instinctively want to stay in our comfort zone, but to become effective in today’s world — and to significantly reinvent ourselves and keep up in the Digital Age — we have to take risks.
You will experience embarrassment and failure, but you’ve got to get over it. Get comfortable being a beginner.