Trajectory

7 Career Strategies to Take You from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

 Trajectory

Author: David L. Van Rooy
Pub Date: May 2014
Print Edition: $16.00
Print ISBN: 9780814433904
Page Count: 240
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814433911

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Excerpt

Introduction

Without continual growth and progress, such words as 
improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.

--Benjamin Franklin

In my career I have been extremely fortunate to work at some of the most recognizable and influential companies in the world, including Walmart, Marriott International, and Burger King. Collectively these three companies employ close to 3 million people in more than 100 countries around the globe. My current company, Walmart, has more than 2 million employees spread over 27 countries. Working at companies of this size and scope has given me an opportunity to build and experience programs and careers on a scale like no other. Over time, as I was growing my own career and contributing to these organizations, I was able to identify essential factors that lead to either career prosperity or disappointment and then develop career strategies based on those factors. In this book you will learn about those timeless strategies, which you can draw upon to ensure that you reach your goals and build the career you want.

My background and education draw from the emerging field of industrial-organizational (I/O) psychology, which is the area in which I obtained my Ph.D. At its core, the field is about both the psychology of the workplace and the psychology of the employee. Through understanding human psychology we can glean greater insights into human nature and help employees identify and harness their innate strengths and capabilities to maximize their performance and success in the workplace. This involves essential areas such as building better-functioning organizations and designing programs to hire and develop top employees.

What separates this book from so many others is the interplay of two key factors: my background in psychology coupled with my extensive global experience in massive organizations. Throughout this book I introduce classical and contemporary psychology studies to help explain the reasons behind why we do so much of what we do. However, I don't just talk about psychology with no basis in reality. And I don't just talk about experience with no basis in underlying mechanisms. What I do is blend the two together in order to bring the concepts to life and provide strategies that you can use to drive your career forward.

The first time I recall ever using the word trajectory to describe the process of progression was when I was telling my younger sister (who was thinking about going to graduate school at the time) about my own trajectory related to school. I explained that what really matters is trying your hardest and doing better and better at each stage of your life (as an aside, she did ultimately decide to go and now owns a successful chiropractic clinic). My grades started off low in grade school, got better in high school, and then even better in college. Thankfully I used that positive trajectory and carried it over to graduate school, where I received top grades to graduate with distinction.

Once I entered the workplace the concept of trajectory began to further take hold for me at a key point in my career. Like many employees, I frequently sought out more seasoned employees for advice and career guidance (and I still do this). The advice and wisdom imparted by so many people is something for which I have always been grateful, and I owe much of my success to this. One day my coworker Kate unexpectedly asked me if I would be willing to meet with her to provide career advice. It was such a simple request, and one that I had asked of others many times. This time, however, someone was asking it of me. Up to that point I had never really given much thought to being the one who would provide guidance to others on this topic. Yet because I knew how valuable the feedback I received had been, I wanted to pay forward the favor that had been bestowed on me so many times. From that moment I began to formally develop the concept of trajectory, which is about continually working toward and fulfilling your goals. In this book you will be introduced to seven strategies, referred to as lessons, that you can use as a guide to build and manage your own personal career trajectory. The strategies we will cover are not only timeless but also apply across all job levels and industries.

Based upon many conversations with successful leaders, as well as my own experiences, I started to look for common themes, something insightful I could say to Kate. When we met, we spoke about her career goals and ways that she could start off her career on the right track. This conversation was soon followed by similar conversations with other employees. I quickly realized that employees are most concerned with their current jobs, and some about the next job. Most employees want to discuss something very specific related to one of these. While these are both important, I realized that the focus was still primarily short-term, particularly for those who were at an early stage in their careers.

People struggle when talking about career goals further down the road, and they often have not considered how their current job will prepare them for the next one, and the next one, and so on. I knew that if I wanted to give valuable career advice that would truly benefit the employees seeking it from me I would have to address the long term, and coach people to direct their efforts to achieve those future goals. In addition to preparing for today and tomorrow, you must learn to prepare yourself for what comes after what's next. You can think of your growth around what is Now, Next, and Then in your career so that you can amass the right portfolio of experience to prepare you for each step. Phrases such as "career goals" and "career path" were familiar to most people but did little to resonate with them or help them plan. Trajectory will enable you to throw those generic ideas out the window and instead focus on strategies that are more intuitively concrete and, more important, that you can manage.

Another common thread I found in my conversations with employees was a conflict between a fear of failure and a desire for instant success. I began to notice that people often operate at two extremes. On one end, they have an inherent fear of failure, which can limit their risk taking. On the other end, they want to attain success as quickly as possible. These two extremes are not normally compatible. Yet in my conversations with my employees, I found ways to balance out this dichotomy. I will share those strategies and secrets with you in Trajectory.

I have not only sought out career advice and been asked for it, but I have synthesized those conversations into an easily accessible series of lessons that anyone can apply to his or her own career objectives. My goal in writing Trajectory is the same that I have when sitting down with an employee who is looking for guidance. I want to help people chart their personal and professional courses in an exciting, invigorating way that's so intuitive, people will wonder why they haven't thought of it already. Trajectory will give you the guidance and stability you have been looking for, both now and into the future.

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