Depending on who you ask for life lessons about career progression, you will get different answers. There is no right answer, but there are certainly a lot of wrong answers (i.e. answers that are totally misaligned with your natural personality).
Predominantly there are 3 types of career progression observed by individuals: (1) Line Progression, (2) Trapezium Progression, and (3) ‘Let’s try this sh*t’ progression. The choice of which one is best for you cannot be answered by anyone, but you. Before you make a choice, spend some time thinking about each one of them and introspecting if this suits you.
Line Progression: Simple to execute
A lot of Gen X have followed this track. You become an expert in your domain and almost everyone comes to you for advice on your domain expertise. You are less confused in life. The entire line progression is intuitive, and almost always guarantees success until you realize you know very few things in life.
Trapezium Progression: Difficult to plan
A lot of young individuals are trying this out. It involves rotating across different opportunities while ensuring that there is a common theme across these opportunities. The focus is to keep moving up, but also learn other areas and/or experiment your capabilities in different areas. It takes a while to grow in this way, but it is a lot more fulfilling. This route often keeps people excited about their day-to-day lives. And most of all, this path gives people the ability to pretend to be smart in almost all situations. That’s why a lot of companies are also promoting the trapezium progression internally. But is this the right way? I am sure people in this route often think that they lack the technical depth and/or they are growing much slower than people opting for line progression.
‘Let’s try this sh*t’ progression: Unpredictable, crazy, but awesome
This is the type which is most in the limelight. This is meant for people who are explorers in life, who are not scared of failure and who lead the path to real big innovation. These are the people who often make big, but they also lose big. And that is why their progression lines run in all directions. They try out different areas quite often. Sometimes they are lost, but they are not afraid to go back to the ground again and again. In summary, these are the people who create awesome things like Airbnb and Farmville. It may look awesome from outside, but a high proportion of people on this path often cry their heart out thinking what it could have been if they didn’t follow this. They often envy line progression and trapezium guys for their stability but soon come back to their self of ‘Let’s try this sh*t’ route.
A lot of factors should be considered while choosing your progression: cultural and economic backgrounds, education, risk taking ability, social pressures, etc. I am sure the list is long, but not a mathematics formula that can be applied to find the right answer. But don’t be afraid to find your own answer. You will find it sooner or later.
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