Two Paths to Preparing for a Career

All of our lives, we’ve heard stories of people who are “outliers.” Men and women who dropped out of college (or never attended in the first place) and made their mark on the world anyway—people like Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Ted Turner, Walt Disney, Wolfgang Puck… and the list goes on and on.

The fact is, less than one in six people have graduated from college globally. Pause and think about that for a moment. If you have a college degree, you are among a small minority in the world. You are rare. If we really believe in the power of a good education, there is no good reason why a college graduate should be jobless if they know how to add value to others.

A Means to an End

Sadly, many of our kids today have been taught to simply go to college, and that that will be their ticket to success. They assumed it was an end unto itself. Uh, not true. Not unless you can translate that degree into a good or a service that can add value to others. In fact, may I suggest that along with playing in the sandbox and learning to get along with others, all through their childhood, we need to be teaching students that the “end” to almost every “mean” they endure is to find a way to add value to others. When we do this, fulfillment and finances generally follow.

Graduates in Cap and Gown

My good friend, David Salyers, told me about his life after he received a degree from the University of Georgia. He had two job opportunities: one was for a major company that would pay him very well immediately, while the other was a starting position at Chick-Fil-A corporate headquarters. This role didn’t pay quite as much, but they promised they would teach him to “add value” to others in his career. He chose the latter—and today, he’s so glad he did. In the end, David chose to ignore the “traditional” approach to education and career and pursue an “outlier” path. This is what I recommend to students everywhere. Note the differences:

Traditional Approach Transformational Approach
* Make good grades * Identify my strengths
* Build a great resume * Find a passion/company match
* Sell myself to the highest bidder * Seek to add the most value

In the traditional approach—you work on your GPA, you get involved with activities you believe will look good on your resume, and you interview for jobs you feel will pay you the maximum amount you can get. It’s really all about you. Your focus is on what value you can extract once you graduate.

In the transformational approach—you seek to identify what value you can add to an organization by identifying your greatest strengths and passions. You seek out a company that aligns with who you are, not that pays the most. Your focus is primarily on adding value, not gaining value. In fact, your gauge is simple: based upon who I am, where can I contribute the most value to this organization?

Surgeries and X-Rays

In March, we launched a brand new Habitudes® resource called Habitudes for Career Ready Students. (For those who don’t know, Habitudes are images that form leadership habits and attitudes). It’s ideal for high school students who are preparing to enter college or their careers. It contains thirteen images, each a reminder of a timeless principle. What’s more, these images (that spark engaging conversations and experiences) are based on twelve career ready standards supported by the U.S. Dept. of Education.

The first image in the book is called Surgeries and X-Rays. Reflect for a moment. Everyone knows that before a doctor performs surgery on a patient, he or she would first take X-rays to diagnose exactly what’s going on inside the person. Only then will they know what the patient needs. This is a picture of how students should enter their careers. They should first look inside and note their strengths, skills, passion and style, as well as what they lack. Only then can they take wise action as they prepare for a career. This chapter guides a discussion and a plan to write out what’s inside a student before they make any moves on the outside.

We have proven that pictures really are worth a thousand words, and with Habitudes for Career Ready Students, you can use images to spark conversations on problem-solving, innovation, critical thinking, personal brands, healthy communication, teamwork, leadership, big-picture thinking, and more.

For more information on this new resource, click here.



Two Paths to Preparing for a Career