Rich Feller provided me with this document September 2016. Thank you very much Rich.
1. What is a HEROIC Career?
Globalization, technology, demographic and longevity trends have turned workplaces upside down. Notions of jobs, definitions of work, and employment’s impact on identity are being reimagined. The speed and frequency of change demands reflection about predictable life stage transitions. The skills needed to navigating a lifetime of transitions have become necessities.
Organizations seek resources, processes and tools for employees to self-manage careers while aligning individual performance with strategic business goals. Yet Gallup says 87% of workers are not engaged, and 34% of workers are freelancing according to the Freelancing in America study. Futurists suggest that a majority of future jobs don’t yet exist. Within this context I see a need for what I call a HEROIC mindset. This set of skills support the ability to find direction while living on purpose. By abiding to the guidelines of a HEROIC methodology clients can draw upon their psychological capital to move forward with clarity. As careers undergo cycles of instability and change a HEROIC career mindset includes six elements:
Hope (H) occurs not only in difficult moments but also as a thinking process to actively pursue goals. It brings together “will” (a sense of investment and energy), and “way” (the resources used to generate viable avenues or pathways to finding purpose in work).
Self-Efficacy (E) is a person’s sense of “I can” where they trust their own ability to organize and execute a course of action to manage a job loss, transition or a return to purposeful work commitments.
Resilience (R) is crucial to successful navigation of the stress and adversity brought about by change. It results from how you define, reframe and construct meaning of events. Rigid or habitual self-defeating thinking limits the ability to bounce back and move ahead. Flexibility, objective thinking, and rational explanation of setbacks increase resiliency and acceptance of change.
Optimism (O) is the ability to seek solutions, see the upside of things gone wrong, and reduce the gap between present and future. Not personalizing or catastrophizing failure, the mind stays open (rather than adopting helplessness) when performance sets you back. Believing that (1) good events have a permanent cause, (2) causes of bad events are temporary and (3) denying universal explanations for failure expands opportunities.
Intentional Exploration (I) is looking for positive clues, welcoming planned (and unplanned) opportunities, and taking inspired action as a way to grow. These activities keep individuals engaged and can help broaden, build and test possibilities.
Clarity and Curiosity (C) – clear intentions and acting on purposeful commitments creates focus, reduces distractions, and maximizes energy. Being clear about internal motivation makes it easier to act intentionally, with integrity and curiosity. Curiosity is a readiness and openness to sparks of imagination.
As the traditional workplace disappears, designing one’s work based on purpose becomes an intentional choice. It frees an individual to navigate a lifetime of transitions with objectivity, self-direction and internal motivation. Adopting an HEROIC career mindset fuels individuals to act on “what’s next”, regardless of the changes ahead.
2. What are VUCAROWEHITANOSE work cultures? (See bottom of this page for explanation of this acronym)
Generational demands, exponential change, and performance-accelerating ideas create complexity and uncertainty. Global and 24/7 data connections have changed work expectations and democratized access to learning, innovation, and social capital within what I call a VUCAROWEHITANOSE workplace culture. As an aging population works decades beyond expectations and creates new life phases, millennials (representing 30% of the workforce), search for flexibility and entrepreneurial relationships. The goal of “working to live” rather than remain overwhelmed and underutilized in the 9-5 world affects work norms. “Ageless Aging”, DIY (do it yourself) efforts, co-working, and the rethinking of costly consumer lifestyles shape how individuals view and maneuver the workforce.
Growth and development is replacing fixed and age related views of talent. Creativity and innovation has become the fuel needed to prosper. The VUCAROWEHITANOSE work culture requires adaptability and flexibility to navigate complex and ambiguous work tasks. Employees must bring value-added skills and input. Workers need to think like a “consultant”. Identifying critical business needs and solving complex problems through high performance and innovation drives success. Tech savvy is becoming the norm for livable-wage salaries. Those without tech literacy will continue to fall behind. Adding value, identifying needs, and delivering new and creative solutions is one’s only job security.
3. What is the impact of VUCAROWEHITANOSE work cultures on modern life and what does this mean for practicing career professionals?
VUCAROWEHITANOSE work cultures shape the way we think about and “do business”, thus dramatically redefining “modern life”. The “promise” of the natural path of transitioning to school, work, financial security, and retirement no longer follows a linear path. Increasingly, modern life is filled with gigs, tours of duty, and short-term contractual work requiring proactive, entrepreneurial actions. Adaptable workers able to flex to business and economic needs will find greater options. Life will consist of people making choices to find purpose outside of traditional security and tenure-based work. The days of working 9-5, plus overtime, plus weekend work, plus on-call 24/7 work will shift. Workers will find more flex and challenge in how they structure work, play, and other purposefully chosen activities.
Practicing career professionals will want to understand workforce demands, build employer and workforce partnerships and broker business/entrepreneurial resources. They will need to develop practices and scalable programs that develop HEROIC mindsets and approaches to living life on purpose. Helping clients to navigate a lifetime of transitions will be how a practitioner’s success is measured.
4. Considering your ideas, could you share a couple of tips with our readers on how to help clients have HEROIC Careers in a connected age?
Technology has blurred the lines between the work and home, creating a 24/7 attachment to work. Work and lifelong learning is inseparable and increasingly defines an individual’s identity. As a result, finding a deeper sense of purpose in work commitments is crucial to maintaining a larger sense of well-being.
To start, I recommend helping clients take stock of where they fall within each of the six HEROIC elements. How do these elements fit with their current career mindset? Then, ask questions around a client’s hope, self-efficacy, resilience and optimism to better understand the internal resources that clients bring to living on purpose. Helping clients build a strategy and plan for intentional exploration, taking in positive clues and identifying opportunities is the key career intervention of the connected age. Help clients to clarify the purposeful commitments they plan to pursue, identify next steps (smaller steps tend to be more effective), and take action to enhance traditional theory. Finally, stimulate curiosity in your client by asking, “what else?” Help clients to think beyond past experiences, immediate environment, or current situation, allowing their curiosity to generate new possibilities. Help clients understand that their identity comes from the present not their past.
Practicing career professionals need to pursue interventions, which cause clients to evaluate and give feedback on a practitioner’s usefulness. I believe that I need to measure my work by how often clients say that they:
1. Feel heard and understood- “yes, I’m not crazy…not alone”
2. See patterns- “yes, I do that”
3. Feel that they are in a process (not stuck in a place)- “yes, I have choices starting
4. Have identified internal and external resources- “yes, there’s hope, gaps,
5. See possibilities- “yes, I see that it can be different”
6. Have accountability built in for small next steps- “yes, I’ve built systems that
reinforce small steps/habits”
I believe that these outcome measures occur when clients report having an above average career session. Such results increase the client’s ability to develop a strong and sustainable HEROIC mindset necessary to navigate a lifetime of transitions in a VUCAROWEHITABOSE workplace culture.
Rich Feller Ph.D is Professor of Counseling and Career Development and University Distinguished Teaching Scholar Emeritus at Colorado State University. Past-President of the National Career Development Association he shared these concepts during NCDA’s 2016 Global Conference keynote in Chicago.
Gallup’s The Engaged Worker (See full report)
Freelancing in America survey, a study of the U.S. independent workforce sponsored by Upwork in partnership with Freelancers Union. (See full report)
Jim Peacock is the Principal at Peak-Careers Consulting and writes a monthly newsletter for career practitioners. Peak-Careers offers discussion-based online seminars for career practitioners focused on meeting continuing education needs for GCDF and BCC certified professionals as well as workshops for career practitioners and individual career coaching.
Sign up for our monthly newsletter at www.Peak-Careers.com