I’ve said this in plenty of articles I’ve written over the years, my career journey was never a straight path. I wasn’t one of the lucky outliers that were in the right position, at the right time, in the right organization, with the right managerial structure, and the right appearance that would allow me to rapidly progress through merit alone. Just was unlucky. However, it was a great blessing in disguise.

Through my hardships, I learned a lot of lessons and gained a lot of insights, that made me the capable engineering leader I am today. In this article, I’m not going to touch on those lessons though. However, I will give some tips on how to navigate your career in these situations yourself. Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Careers Shouldn’t Be Perfectly Paved

The first thing everyone needs to understand is that careers aren’t meant to be perfectly paved. Yes, there are outliers(exceptions), but the exception never makes the rule. LinkedIn, and other forms of social media, make it seem like it’s so easy to get a position that can skyrocket you to a 7 figure net worth and over 250k annual income before you’re 30. While it’s possible, that chance of possibility is determined by factors that are out of your control.

The overwhelming majority will face a lot of twists, turns, and long rough patches, that will truly test you. Despite how difficult, and possibly traumatizing, I firmly believe this is the perfect path to take. Once you get into a leadership role, you’ll want to have battle scars from situations you’ve overcome. Untested leaders, create headaches for everyone.

Accept What You Can’t Change

A big immediate lesson most people should learn is that your work output alone doesn’t determine your career trajectory. In truth, your personal situation, both economically and personally, is the determinant of what you need to do to get ahead. You can’t work your way out of when you were born, how you were born, where you were born and grew up, or the state of the economy when you enter the workforce, and the same things for those around you in your industry.

Most people tend to overthink these things and allow it to create a negative mindset. Growth, aspirations, and fulfiling your potential, all require positive mindsets and blind faith. When your mindset is focused on negativity, you can’t acheive.

Look For Similarities In Mentors

The biggest mistake anyone can do is taking advice from someone that isn’t understanding to your situation. This is because most people tend to base their understanding of situations and choices on their own life. Especially those that are deemed as “smart”; charecteristics that define being “smart” tend to push people to take higher degrees of efforts to justify their position. Instead of seeing nuance.

With that in mind, it’s always your best bet to find someone successful that has some understanding to you. Both as a person, and where you are in your career. You’ll end up in better positioning to navigate your problems, and ideas into progress.

Don’t Be Afraid To Jump Around

Sticking at one place for a long period of time in hopes of a promotion is a dead end. If your managerial tree isn’t working with you by advocating, positioning you into the right projects, and promoting you to the greater organizaiton, then it’s not happening. The bulk of the time you’ll need to move to progress, sometimes even latterally. It’s all about finding the right position for you to spring upward, as opposed to dwell. More on this in a later article 🙂

In Closing

Understanding that uncertainty and rough periods are the most critical parts of a journey is crucial. Nobody wants to have a leader at their company that doesn’t understand how to properly handle difficult times. Take a look at the current layoffs at multiple reputible companies and how leadership handled it. Isn’t obvious who had the easy path vs. who didin’t? It should be!