It's easy to think of your career path in terms of climbing a ladder. We want to move forward and progress, and that's what you do on a ladder — you move up and get from Point A to B. But reality isn't that simple. Your career path probably isn't a straight line — it's probably more like a climbing wall.
Photo by Proadventure.co.uk Activities
Roger Ferguson is the President and CEO of TIAA-CREF (Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association — College Retirement Equities Fund). He explains that progressing in your career often means exploring paths you don't expect:
Sometimes you need to go sideways to make progress. You may even have to move down the wall at certain points. The key is to keep growing and learning.
My career path has been anything but straight. I started out practising law, and then joined the consulting world for 13 highly rewarding years. When I had the opportunity to serve as a governor on the Federal Reserve, I did not hesitate to accept. Since 2008, I have had the good fortune to lead TIAA-CREF. I have loved applying my talents to such a diverse array of positions and organisations. It's been extremely rewarding on both a personal and professional level. But if I had started out with rigid notions about getting from point A to point B in my career, I would have missed out on many opportunities that have enriched my life.
Sure, some career paths are cut-and-dried. If you want to be a doctor, you go to medical school, you complete residency, and you get your licence. But many careers don't follow a step-by-step guide to success. If one straightforward path isn't available, it might be worth moving "sideways" to get to Point B. As long as you're growing and learning overall, you're still moving up the wall.
For more detail, check out his full post at the link below.