Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chaotic Careers

What role has luck played in your life or career?

Jim Bright is professor of Career Development at the Australian Catholic University and quite a presence in the Australian Career Development field. His Chaos theory of Career Development fits with my experience and that of many of my clients.

An article on the role of luck in careers recently appeared in the Financial Review "How to get luck on your side" link here.

Whilst we might like to think that talent and determination are the key factors in success at work, there is often something else happening too. Bright explains that not everyone with talent will make it to the top of their field no matter how hard they try - and discusses the reasons for this.

It's not simply hard work alone that puts some people at the top of their field. Bright and others believe there's an element of luck, of being in the right place at the right time and of putting yourself in the way of opportunities and being open to change.
Like this tree, many people are able to take advantage
of the opportunity for re-growth after a major unforeseen setback.
Bright's theory of career development is that we live in a world of uncertain events, where the idea of our work-life as a linear progression is simply not how life unfolds. People's careers change direction and often appear haphazard as they hit a wall or another opportunity occurs. Often they 'spin around to do something completely different.'

Jim Bright believes people need to be luck ready and says that even if this doesn't come naturally it can, to some extent, be learnt. Bright and Pryor have devised three tests (link here) so you can see where you fit on their luck scale. You will be asked to create a user name and password and then choose the test you wish to complete.

People who score highly in flexibility, optimism, risk (adventurousness), curiosity, persistence, strategy, efficacy and luckiness will be more open to change and put themselves in the way of chance events more often than those who are less flexible in their outlook.
Random events can cause us to change direction.
Along with many others, Bright believes that our vision of careers needs to include the vision of chance and uncertainty. He encourages us not to stick overly rigidly with a plan, and to acknowledge the importance of the complexity of the world in which we live. This will enable us to make the most of the potential of unplanned and unforeseen events.

Three tests
The Luck Readiness Index profiles your response to chance and measures your awareness and readiness to take opportunities in a changing environment.

The Change Perception Index profiles how you view change in your life and career compared to others. Each comes with an extensive in-depth report. These are available for a fee of $9(Aus)

The Exploring Chaos Reality Checklist is free, and is quick and easy to complete. The checklist is designed to assess your thinking about change in your career and the workplace (and I would add in life in general). An informative interesting and useful printable outline of your results is available on completion.

I've mentioned in previous posts about how change can be very uncomfortable for many people.  But even when it's uncomfortable it can be positive and adapting to it can be an indicator of career success.

The future is not predictable - an example is sudden, unexpected downsizing of a company which can leave unprepared workers floundering and stressed.  Learning to be adaptable and to reinvent ourselves to take advantage of random opportunities can be extremely empowering.

The free printable report from the Exploring Chaos Reality Checklist has suggestions for ways to think about your pattern of responses, as well as how to use this information proactively in regards to future events.  Not bad for free!

Link to tests here.

How have chance and random events affected your life?


David L Macaulay said...

bad luck I would say Sue - am still waiting for some good luck to come along. Interesting post.

Michelle said...

I scored 'Not completely open to change' ;-)

Anonymous said...

I guess it was luck that landed me a temp assignment where I eventually applied for and got a full time job..good or bad luck I've never been 100% sure....I was hired permanent full time on april fools day. Happily I am now retired.

sue said...

David, keep your eyes peeled, that good luck has to be lurking somewhere, possibly sneakily well hidden. Did you take the test?

Michelle, good on you for taking the test!

Delores, I guess we're not always 100% sure of things, but landing a full time job on April fools day would mean you never forgot when it happened!