Sunday, November 21, 2010

Some sensible career advice from an inspiring man.

To maintain my status as a member of the CDAA (Career Development Association of Australia), and like lots of other professions, I need to accrue the required number of Professional Development (PD) hours per year.

I like a good conference, and they’re generally an enjoyable way of adding PD hours. It’s always great to meet new people and catch up with colleagues from distant places. But sometimes I choose to go to a conference by myself to push myself outside my comfort zone, it's a good way to challenge myself to meet new people.

Apart from the general buzz of a conference, it’s also reassuring to confirm that my skills are up to date (always a plus) and have the opportunity to refine and fine-tune them. But the best part is being exposed to something completely new. (A BIG plus).

So, yesterday I tackled the freeways at an hour well before the pre-Christmas shopping hordes were awake, to accrue said PD hours.

Good oh, the first couple of sessions confirmed that I’m still on the right track, my skills are current, with a bit of fine-tuning possible. Yes, I’m satisfied: that’s as it should be.

But the last session – gosh! Riveting.

If you ever have the chance to listen to Andrew MacLeod go along. He forged a career path that initially appeared to be on a relatively ‘normal’ trajectory, but by giving things a go, and saying ‘yes’ to the challenges that came along, he has experienced a most amazing journey.

He’s an excellent presenter, and is passionate, knowledgeable and willing to speak his mind about politics, disaster relief and what makes a good career and the twists and turns his took! I've plucked some words from his bio: “recruited by the International Committee of the Red Cross to deal with military factions in Yugoslavia and Rwanda”, “Senior Adviser on Disaster Management”, “humanitarian teams”. "Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia".

As they would have said in the old days: “I dips me lid to him.”

Andrew McaLeod's story (Wikipedia) brought home forcefully the amazingly unexpected opportunities that are sometimes available in apparently ordinary lives. It shows what can happen when we're open to chance and put aside the shoulds and oughts to do something that aligns with deeply held values: Humanitarian. Social conscience. The concept of a fair go.

Andrew encouraged those of us working with young people to remind them not to get hung up on the choices they have to make in middle secondary school, but to be as flexible as possible. It was wonderful to hear someone with clout say things I’ve been privately grumbling about for years.

Just when young people are discovering who they are and what makes them tick, and many are beginning to grapple with the BIG life questions - Who am I? Where am I going? Where do I fit in the scheme of things? What's really important to me? they have to make restrictive choices about subjects and courses, based on minimal life experience and not really knowing who they will become or what opportunities will arise. Many students don't have a clear idea of their strengths and skills.

Some students make subject and course choices for interesting reasons: Some are based on like or dislike of a particular teacher, friendship groups and occasionally subjects are made with closed eyes and wishful thinking. Not great or useful in the long run, and sometimes with sad results.

However, Andrew MacLeod had received some excellent career advice from his mother that was along the lines of:

"Create as many options as possible,
and choose the best you can at the time”

And by living by those words, his life has been anything but ordinary.

I normally don’t buy the videos from a conference, but I made an exception here. I want my family to see and hear an inspirational speaker.

Go and hear Andrew MacLeod if you can, and embrace the possibilities that can occur when you allow the unexpected and unplanned into your life!


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