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VIEWPOINT: Plan: A very important four-letter word

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“Our grandparents would never have considered a career in digital engagement, or imagined that a Chief Energy Officer would have very little to do with a power plant.”

Future-proofing your career

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” – Benjamin Franklin. This is also true for your career.

Listening recently to Clem Sunter discussing scenario planning, I was again reminded of the importance of considering various possibilities that could impact not only your country, your industry or your organisation, but, very importantly, your career and personal life too.  

How does one plan for an unknown future?

Consider the following three steps: What possible scenarios may unfold that could impact or shape your future? For ideas, refer to www.mindofafox.com.

  • How can you use your unique selling proposition (USP) in these scenarios? Plan how you can use your key strengths to capitalise on likely opportunities the future could present.
  • Craft a set of road-maps based on these scenarios, comprising plans of how to maximise future returns on the investment of your time and abilities.

Noted, these scenario planning exercises require a large investment of time, mental input and effort. This begs the question whether all of this will result in a return on effort. As Abraham Lincoln said: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Clearly if we have a figurative sharp axe, or effective life plan, we can optimally get through many more trees, or life experiences. How robust these plans are determines your success at dealing with uncertainties in a dynamic future. As an example, many future jobs do not exist today. Our grandparents would never have considered a career in digital engagement, or imagined that a Chief Energy Officer would have very little to do with a power plant. With the speed at which the world is advancing, we need to build in a mechanism that identifies how relevant and sought-after your skills and experience will be in the future. For an alternative and interesting perspective, a good read is Future-proof your child by Nikki Bush and Graeme Codrington.  

Stretch

Don’t aim too low and accept mediocrity when you are more than capable of achieving extraordinary success. A key component of planning is ensuring that you do not sell yourself short, or underestimate the value of your knowledge, skills, experience. Recall the exceptional drive, ability to adapt and innovative qualities we as South Africans possess. When you consider the many inspirational stories of South Africans achieving global acclaim, appreciate what can be done. As an example, there is the amazing success story of a schoolboy from Mthatha, Siyabulela Xuza, who went on to study engineering at Harvard and had a minor planet named after him after developing a new type of rocket fuel which is cheaper, safer and more efficient than the fuels used today – while still at school.

“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago” – Warren Buffett

Anneke Andrews CA(SA), is the director that leads RecruiTalent at Deloitte.