What we talk about when we talk about “career”

image“How about my career? What’s my next career move?”

So many times are these the sort of questions I am faced with. We talk about “career choices”, “career planning” and so on.

When I reply to this, people listen with curiosity. “Do you know where the word “career” comes from?”, I ask so often.

I want to share a different perspective.

“Career” is from a Spanish word, “carrera”, initially from “carro”, which is “carriage” or “cart”. Hence, “carrera” makes me think, originally, of “the road for carriages“. A road for carriages has two tracks, dug by the continuous pressure of the carriages’ wheels. Two tracks, like a railway line. Out of the tracks, trains derail. No freedom to leave the tracks.

Let’s look back, now. Often, when we talk about “career”, we talk about a road we haven’t really, consciously selected. More than a road, a “track”. A very tight one, though: our parents started by selecting the “right” school for us, often from the nursery on to primary. Then, we believe we are the ones who choose, all the way through to college. Then, what? Our tracks lead us to the “right” undergrad, then the right MBA, double degree or else. All this, then, translates into the “right” job, with the proper “bulge bracket” Investment Bank, or Firm, or what.

At some point, though, our railway tracks end. We feel this, when we start talking about “the next career move”, when we feel we are not in control. “Why is it that no one calls me?”

We feel lost.

That’s where the element of “choice” steps in.

Choice means freedom. We are free to choose what we want to be and, most importantly, for whom.

All of us, particularly those who work in the field of professional services, we all need to ask ourselves this question. What we do is important, that’s clear. More important, though, is for and with whom we do what we do, whose needs we address through what we do. This opens up an entirely new element, which we’ve kept unconscious for so long.

People, not what we do, will make us happy.

We can then forget about “career moves”, and the uneasy, fixed tracks, dug by carriage wheels doing the same, time and again. A world of possibilities opens up, the world of selecting the right people, the world of connecting wisely.

Tommaso Arenare

www.twitter.com/tommaso_arenare

5 thoughts on “What we talk about when we talk about “career”

  1. I can really identify with the writer’s thoughts at this point of time being in a similar situation described in the article. I am surprised that writing was on the wall but I have failed to read it. Amazing.

  2. Pingback: How about a coffee together? | Open Thinking

  3. Pingback: “Never burn a bridge. Ever” | Open Thinking

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