Monday, April 09, 2012

Is it a Prison or a Bridge? What are your Transferabilities?

So often in my coaching of others and my self, I come across the topic of how one views their past experience.

A typical response is that experience is a prison which traps one in an industry, role, network or familiar set of challenges & solutions. One deems that their reputation in one area disqualifies them from doing other things. While there is some truth to this, it is not as true as we too often think.
A better response I encourage, though I recognize its difficulty from personal experience, is to see our past experience as a bridge to every other type of service and opportunity we are inclined to pursue. This is easier said than done, but alas not impossible. Possibility is rooted in believing that your past experience is a bridge, and not a prison.

Here are a few bridges to contemplate:

1. Any experience develops a set of transferable skills useful in a variety of other scenarios outside your past experience. Inventorying your transferable skills  is critical and I advise you to not attempt this on your own but with other trusted colleagues as we all have blindspots and underestimations rgarding our skills.

2. Your past experience has cultivated a network of contacts (transferable relationships) who have contacts far afield of your current industry, role, etc. who can help you research, connect with, and bridge over to new possibilities for yourself. Strategic analysis and leveraging of your network is critical. People are typically more willing to assist us than we are willing to reach to them so I encourage this, and remember the value of the strength of weak ties.

3. Your past experience has exposed you to a number of industry and business scenarios (transferable experience & knowledge) which while “old hat” to you are new challenges to others who can benefit from your knowledge and wisdom. Here is where research of developments in other industries, or other sectors of your current industry, is useful to enable you to ascertain where your experience can possibly add more value.

As I encourage my coachees to filter these transferabilities in their own pasts through the perspective of bridge, versus prison, it begins to open up new possibilities for what they might do with their backgrounds in different context. I think this mindset and skill is going to be more and more critical for all of us as we face a locally & globally competitive job & career environment which is asking us to be more nimble, flexible and creative about our prospect.

May you always have the eyes and ears to see and hear how your prisons are really bridges! Happy transferring!


Bill Bell said...

Thanks for this, Craig. Interesting and useful!

I've mentioned this note on my blog at Other Transferrables Beyond Skills


Imran M. Ismail said...

Very interesting and insightful metaphor of bridge and prison! and equally eloquent explanation of transferable skills.