Three Stages of Any Career

I really shouldn’t do this but today i cannot help myself.

This is an excerpt from my novel.

It is about working

“Well it looks like it because you look exhausted” Stuart trailed off, he suddenly appeared deep in thought, as though some great revelation was forming in his head. He put his glasses on and looked down at the contract.

“You know this job isn’t gonna be a walk in the park. It’s big. It’s gonna test you.” He said not looking up.

“I know” was my meek reply. My voice must have had enough self doubt to prompt the lecture that was coming my way.

He took a breath and looked up at me over the top of his glasses. “I am gonna tell you what my daddy told me and what I told my son, and what I hope he tells his kids. It’s something everyone should know before they step out of school and walk into the big wide world. Its pretty simple too.

You need to understand that no matter how hard things seem, it will get easier.

I am going to break this down for you.

Every job has three stages. I don’t know if you have ever noticed but you are a smart guy and I bet that after I tell this you will look back at your experiences and start to see the stages really clearly.”

I could never tell how serious Stuart was, part of his success was being able to hide his feelings and play whatever role he needed. Now though he seemed to be dropping his defences a little. This was the real Stuart staring at me over the top of his designer glasses.

“The start, stage one.” He said and paused taking a sip of coffee.

“You walk into whatever it is you have chosen to do and it is plain hard! You are so busy learning the structure and the way things are done your head spins. Every day is full of problems and challenges that just seem insurmountable. It’s overwhelming and there aint no time to catch a breath.” Stuart was animated now, his demeanour returned to the ambiguous straight talking knock about. He removed his glasses leaned back in his chair and stretched his arms wide.

“You will question your ability to do the work!” He said loudly enough to make other people in the cafe stop what they were doing and look over.

“You will stare failure in the face!

Hell, you will be so tired you hit the pillow each night like an old boxer hits a bag. You are gonna wake up in the middle of the night and not get back to sleep.

It will be a nightmare, it’ll be terrible!” He paused for effect, then slapped both hands on the table, “But don’t give up, because all of a sudden you get it!”

Stuart paused again. Everything was now exaggerated.

“Stage two. The best part of any job, any career or calling.

You get it! You understand what it is you are here to do and how you are going to make it work. You understand the challenges and its time for you to make your mark on the job.

Do you know how good it feels to make your mark? You start to get a rush when you get to work. A feeling that comes from knowing you fit. Knowing that you are part of something. This is the time to make improvements and time to build your reputation.

You understand the stages?” Stuart looked at me, he leaned forward, took sip of coffee and tapped his fingers on the table. Whatever effect he was aiming for it worked, even though all he was saying was simple logic and obvious to anyone that had ever walked into a challenging work environment I felt somehow special to be receiving this advice. He smiled and drained the rest of his coffee.

“What you really want to try and do is stay in stage one and two for the rest of your life. Working hard, making a difference, building your reputation and helping others improve their lives. Learn to relish the hardships of stage one and enjoy the satisfaction of stage two.”

There was a pause again. “What you don’t want to do is live your life in stage three.” Stuart’s brow wrinkled and his voice was softer. Less animated.

“Stage three. You stop caring. You are over the work. We all know the feeling, we have all had it. When you have been doing something for so long and it is just easy.

People have a word for it. Pigeon holed. It’s where you get yourself stuck in a job or career that has ceased to provide any real challenge. This is where you end up if you lose ambition.

It’s boring.

Hell, it is downright depressing. I have seen people, you know they just turn up every day, do their job and go home to what ever miserable existence awaits them. Some people spend their whole life in stage three. Never wanting to do anything apart from get their pay check. Can you imagine?

Can you imagine waking up every day and thinking. Oh dam! another day doing this.”

Stuart picked up his empty coffee cup and looked at it. He seemed disappointed. He looked back at me, smiled and surmised, “So I am telling you, my message here is simple. You are going to get this new job and you are going to be in stage one. Be aware of it. Enjoy it.”

I was about to speak, but he lifted his hand and made one last point “Because once you start getting bored its time to get out.”

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