Monday, January 20, 2014

How to use free career advice available on internet and books?

Many believe that one can always get some useful career advice by listening to the story of an achiever.

They argue that we get tips and ideas to succeed by hearing their stories. By knowing how achievers negotiated their hurdles we find how to negotiate our hurdle, by listening to their responses to difficult situations we learn to respond innovatively, or after hearing the ideas of how they energised themselves after failure we can also use the same methods to buck ourself up after failing. But is this assumption really true? Can we really adopt career ideas and suggestions of others achievers directly?

Let us understand how we use health advice in our lives.

How do we use health advice of others 

In order to use someone's health advice effectively, I have to 'incorporate' the advice in my daily routine. I cannot adopt an idea as it is, I have to adapt it for my situation. For this, I have two choices.
  • First choice is creating an intellectual framework. For instance, to use the advice of weight control, I must create a framework of "Weight control", the framework of 'cause and effect'. What causes weight increase and what causes weight loss. The framework consists of basic info like noting down the calorie impact of each food, estimating the calories we burn during the day, predicting the calorie intake by eating our normal food. Then i need to understand my own habits: both of consuming food and burning calories.  Understand my current weight scenario. ( if i am not overweight by too much kg, i can use less drastic regimes). Only after creating a framework like this, i can use an advice of a celebrity who reduced her weight by 20 kg in two months.  
  • Second choice is based on Similarity: similarity of background. For instance, to copy the food habit of a celebrity, I must find a person who is more similar to me. If i am consuming South Indian type of food, i must get the advise from a South Indian. If i stay in Mumbai, I must copy the exercise habits of Mumbai-based resident, because i cannot do normal exercises at 6 pm! This is copy-paste method, except that you have to take care in the copying the right person ! 
Both methods have pros and cons.As you would realise, intellectual framework Method forces you to take more cognitive effort, but it can also help you incorporate advice of many celebrities easily. The Similarity Method requires less cognitive effort,  but you must spend more effort on finding the right person who is similar to your background. 

Take care while using similarity method (Copy-paste) for your career advice

Many individuals prefer to use the second choice, because it takes lesser cognitive effort.

But they ignore the essential rule of finding the right person. For instance, finding any south Indian person in Mumbai will not help, you must find such a person who has also lost his weight successfully. That is difficult. Finding a person with more similar background increases the chances of using the advice successfully , but it is also increases the difficulty in finding such a person. For instance, finding a person who has similar habits like you ( such as having desk bound job, because you work on computers) is not easy. 

Without finding the right person, however, most of the people use the wrong learnings from other successful achievers.  And that is why, despite so much of health advice on controlling weight, you will find so many individuals struggle to control their weight. Despite so much of health advice on stress control to control BP, you will find so many individuals suffering from high BP at low age. Despite so much of health advice on controlling a simple ailment like cold and headache, you will find so many individuals suffering from cold and headaches.

Similarly, there is plenty of career advice on internet.The same is true while using career advice of celebrity achievers. When you hear the stories of these achievers, and hear their ideas and struggles, you can use them by using either of the two methods of adapting it: Either create a Career framework to find which advice is appropriate for you or Use Similarity method to find the right achiever who resembles with your background and situation.

You will find that students use Similarity Method, when they chose the profession of their parents or close relatives. When a child in the family of actors want to be in entertainment profession, he can easily chose Similarity method of getting ready-made career advice. Being in the family, they find it easier to get the right customised career advice for their career. No need to find any other celebrity or an outsider. That is why it is easy to chose and succeed a discipline/profession which is followed by your father, uncle, grandfather or cousins !

Another option of using Similarity method of seeking career advice is to find a role model in your chosen work-path. That is why entrepreneurs find mentors who are successful entrepreneurs or Angel investors. Or find a role model of a Professor if you want to pursue a work-path of a Professor. Or find a role model of a researcher, if you want to pursue research. In technical language, this is called finding a Mentor. Mentoring is very helpful if mentor is found in the same work-path . This is how one can use the interviews of successful achievers. 

How to use generic advice of achievers 

But how to use career advice of other achievers, who are in not in your domain, or from your background, but who have achieved something in a very different arena?

There is a plenty of career advice available in the net, in the books, in the heads of achievers. It is a very good idea to use this advice. But most of it is not for you. How to separate wheat from chaff?

One simplest way is to find answers to some specific questions. For instance, nested goals is often common in every person's life. If you therefore meet celebrities, ask a question " How did your goals kept on changing".

Second way is to ask questions about the important values of compass setting. Values such as 'Process is more important than Result' determine the course of life more than any other value. This value determines if you dream 'big' without thinking of the consequences of 'failing' in realising the dream. This value also determines the extent of 'ethics' that you may want to sacrifice to achieve your goals.


But what you want is the specific customised advice that will be applicable to your career, the advice that will be applicable to you, given your family and parental background, advice that you will be able to incorporate in your daily work practices, advice that suits your specific work path. In short, what you require is a 'Customised career advice'. Tips and ideas of career advice look good on the surface, but are not useful to most of us. 

We all search internet to discover a success formula that can help us surmount all our career difficulties. If there is one success formula you must use, it should be either developing your own career framework by using generic framework like Enlight.  Only your career framework can help you sort out good career advice from bad ! 

1 comment:

Sanjiv Bhamre said...

This dichotomy of adopt versus adapt is very well captured by Bobby Sutton and Huggy Rao in their metaphor of Catholicism approach versus Buddhism approach ( in their book Scaling up for excellence)