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Never rely on the skills and knowledge
you have. Develop new skills. Acquire new
The more options you can offer (in terms of skills,
knowledge and experience) the higher the probability
you will be wanted.
Alexander McCall Smith (already mentioned in Chapter 21) is
not only a best-selling author and great speaker but also an
amateur bassoonist. But his main job has been as a professor of
Medical Law. Benjamin Zander (see Chapter 21 again) started his
life in music but now also lectures as a leadership and
motivational guru. They have both acquired second strings to
their bow.
We all understand the need for
insurance but often neglect this when
it comes to the worst thing that can
happen to us at work losing our jobs.
Every day there are news reports of
companies scaling back on their
operations and making thousands of
staff redundant. I feel sorry for these people, especially those
who have failed to prepare for this eventuality and don’t have the
insurance of alternative career paths.
When a company’s revenues and profits drop substantially it has
no option but to fire employees. It is a harsh but regrettable fact
of life.
Any employee’s first priority must be to safeguard his future,
protect the welfare of his family and ensure he is well positioned
Remember Baden-
Powell’s famous Boy
Scout motto: ‘Be
to seize the first opportunity to regain employment. Apart from
any job-loss insurance scheme this priority requires two
further types of insurance. The first is to view the redundancy
positively. Your initial reaction might be, as stated earlier, This
is the worst thing that has happened to me I’ve lost my job’ but
within 24 hours you should have transformed your thinking
such that: This is the best thing that has happened to me it
gives me a golden opportunity for a fresh start in my career.
Positive thinking about setbacks is great insurance against a
desperate future.
The second form of insurance is to acquire a second string to
your bow. Wise people are never complacent, nor do they rely on
a narrow experience and skills base for generating income. To be
prepared for the future it is essential to work hard at developing
a second set of skills so that if you are made redundant you will
have more options. This might mean, for example, gaining
experience in teaching or training in addition to your original
profession. It might mean learning a new language so that you
have more appeal to any employer operating globally. It might
mean doing something completely different, for example
studying alternative medicine in your spare time in order to be
well positioned to make a career of this in the future, should you
so wish.
Furthermore, by acquiring a second string to your bow you will
have more to offer a prospective employer who might want
someone who can devote one day a week to in-house training in
addition to practising their specialism.
Pete Jimenez’s week-day job is as general manager of Optima
Digital in the Philippines. However he has acquired a second
string to his bow. During weekends he roams the junk shops of
Mandaluyong and Quezon City searching for scrap iron, rusty
pipes, nails and any metal parts that set his imagination
Acquire A Second String
working. He then converts these into metal sculptures. I work
in my garage. I never know what sculptures I’m going to make
because I never know what scrap iron I’m going to find’, he says.
His sculptures have been widely exhibited. ‘If his company ever
puts Pete on the scrap heap, commented a fan, he’ll know
exactly what to do.’
People who limit themselves to one professional skill set risk
being categorised as too narrow in outlook. More often
nowadays employers are looking for people who are multiskilled
and thus sufficiently versatile to adapt to changing business
Review the skills, knowledge and experience you require for
your current job and ask yourself: Would I have to rely on
these to get another job?
If the answer is ‘yes’ think seriously about acquiring a second
string to your bow.
This can relate to anything that really fascinates you.
Then devote time and energy to acquiring this new set
of skills.
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