By July 5, 2010 Read More →

Rapid Growth Fields and Your Career Success

Find a Rapid Growth Field to Amplify Your Success

“Change is inevitable, growth is intentional.” — Glenda Cloud

The field you’re in can slow you down or it can speed up your career success.

It’s easier to be a success in some fields than in others.  Some fields are rapid growth, in which case, you can ride the bandwagon.  In other fields, you might find a way to play to your strengths in a novel or unique way that works for you.

If you’re making all the right moves, and doing all the right things, it just might be that the container that you’re in is a slow-growth field, or over-crowded, or too competitive for your success to shine through.

For me, I chose a high-tech field because of the growth potential.  In an information age, it seems to be full of opportunities and rapid change.  Interestingly, I work with a lot of musicians who would otherwise be starving artists, but instead they fund their life style by working in a high-tech field, and then carve out time for their musical talents, or even find ways to bring their creative talents to the job, or bring high-tech to music..

The beauty is, you don’t have to necessarily be a perfect fit for a rapid growth field.  You can always find a way to use your talents or experience as a differentiator.  For example, I don’t need to be the best software developer.  Instead, I can leverage my ability to lead high-performance teams or execute projects or create information models.  In fact, it’s this last skill that helped me win in competitive assessments, and to file patents.

5 Ways to Leverage a Rapid Growth Field
In the book, Tactics: The Art and Science of Success , Edward de Bono shares ways to leverage high-growth fields for improving your career success:

  1. Follow the Growth.  de Bono writes, “The computer industry is a growth industry, and within that industry software is a growth field.  The steel industry is not a growth industry.  Clearly is it easier, as I write, to be successful in the computer industry than in the steel industry.  Property has always been such a promising field.  So is insurance.  The oil industry has its ups and downs but it has also been an area in which individuals could make fortunes.  It is both the growth of the field that matters and the nature of the transaction within that field.  It is easier for a person to make his name in investment banking than in retail banking.  It is easier to make a name as a journalist than as a school-teacher.”
  2. Ride the Bandwagon.  de Bono writes, “If the field is really growing rapidly, then any person in that field may simply be carried along with the growth and not have to contribute very much to his his or her own success.  Riding the bandwagon had always been one road to success.  There is usually room for several people on the bandwagon.  The pioneer in the field may or may not be successful, but those who come in very soon after the field is established can be carried along by its explosive growth.”
  3. When luck doesn’t work, make it by design.  de Bono writes, “Getting a rapid growth field may be a matter of luck or choice.  You may simply happen to be in a field that starts to grow rapidly.  You may choose to get into a field that you think may start to grow.  You may choose to move smartly into a field as soon as you spot the field is on the move.  In show-jumping you can be a brilliant rider who gets the very best out of a difficult horse.  Or you can make sure that you choose for yourself the very best horse around and then just hang on and let the horse do it for you.  There is a certain heroism in the first approach and more sense in the second.”
  4. Find the ways you can be in a field.  de Bono writes, “What if your temperament and talents are suited to a field that is not growing?   What if the growing field demands talents you do not have?  What if you are no good at writing software, should you get into that field?  You could always market the software or finance software companies or hire people to write the software for your company.  It is well worth looking around to see the many ways you can be in a field.  The real estate world has deal-makers, developers, financiers, lawyers, contractors, etc.”
  5. Beware the talent trap.  de Bono writes, “Sometimes there is a sort of ‘talent trap.’  A youngster is good at maths at school so he or she gets channeled into a career that uses mathematics.  But that youngster may have been almost as good at organization and might have become a chief executive of a major organization instead of a professor of mathematics.  Talent in one direction does not mean that there is no talent in the other direction.  If you are suited to a slow-moving field, it is only too easy that you will not be able to shift to another field that is growing more rapidly.  Far too many youngsters who showed some aptitude for art have had their lives ruined by that small talent which has lead them into a field that is so difficult even for the most talented.”

The key is to play to your strengths while following the growth, or creating growth.

Photo by pastanaut.

12 Comments on "Rapid Growth Fields and Your Career Success"

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  1. Jean Sarauer says:

    “Find the ways you can be in a field,” is so important. It’s easy to dismiss great opportunities because we don’t stop to think of all the careers that are available. Really, most of us have skills that are transferable or would need minimal tweaking if we simply open our eyes and minds.

  2. Davina says:

    Hi JD.
    I really enjoyed this post. It presents a lot of opportunities without containing a person to any one label. The quote at the beginning got my attention right away and bears repeating: “Change is inevitable, growth is intentional.”

    What’s neat about this is how it comes full circle with your closing statement, “The key is to play to your strengths while following the growth, or creating growth.” Because we know change is inevitable, we can intend to be ready for it and to use our know-how to go with the flow. That requires really knowing what our strengths are.

  3. Cath Lawson says:

    Hi JD – This is a brilliant post. It’s funny – I’ve always preferred to buy stocks in growing fields but I never thought of a person applying the same rule to their career. But I can see that it makes a lot of sense.

    My kids seem to prefer music and art to anything, so I am going to show them this article and hopefully it will help them realise that there is more than one path to success.

  4. alik levin says:

    “Find the ways you can be in a field” resonated with me the most.
    I tried to go the way of growth that did not resonate w/me and it… did not resonate w/me. I am back to “play-to-my-strenghts” path. It’s harder to get into the game but the dip is worth it.

  5. Farouk says:

    i took your same path, started as a network admin then moved on to making a living from my blog, certainly betting on the tech field would yield something, its still growing

  6. Kate says:

    Beware the talent trap is so true, particularly with talents that may not be noticed so much at school – great example, maths would be praised and graded and pushed, but a great talent in organising would likely be passed by.

  7. JD says:

    @ Jean — It really does open up doors. I think that’s increasingly important in today’s world where the land of jobs shape-shifts under our feet.

    @ Davina — Thank you. That is a powerful quote. One of the rules we go by at work is, “drive or be driven” meaning that either you set your agenda, or you’ll be reacting to somebody else’s.

    These are four of some of my favorite ways to find strengths: free form brainstorm, resume reflection, Martin Seligman’s 24 Character Strengths list, and StrengthsFinder.

    @ Cath — Thank you. I’ve found two little rules of thumb have served me well — follow the growth and follow the money. Wherever the money is, tends to be an indicator of where the action, growth, and investments are.

    @ Alik — That’s right — it’s about finding the dips that are woth it, and leaning in hard. If you find that your hard-earned experience and skills aren’t paying off, something is off, and it might be the arena you are trying to compete in, or how you are framing your value.

    @ Farouk — I think you’ve paved a great example. You found a way to fund your life style, while growing and scaling your impact, doing what you love.

    @ Kate — I always wonder whether there were other talents I should have optimized around. At the end of the day, I think it’s finding that blend between funding your life style, giving your best where you have your best to give, and playing to your passion.

  8. Hilary says:

    HI JD .. it is finding the differentiator .. a niche in which to fit and show your worth. What sort of patents do you file .. software information models?

    The net is definitely happening now – with many people out there .. but find a niche way of fitting in, but offering something completely different, unless one is lucky to be carried along on the bandwagon ..

    We need to work hard at our chosen passion or field .. and look outside the normal parameters .. when you’re developing your idea – there may be spin-offs that fit.

    Kids .. perhaps are too narrow in their outlook .. they can’t see beyond the path they’ve set their heart on .. there are lots of people with maths and music, who happily work during the day to pay the bills, while pursuing their passion in the evenings and at weekends .. so I can see you working with them in your field. Art is another story though ..

    Great thoughts as usual JD – thanks very much – Hilary

  9. JD says:

    @ Hilary — I filed patents for information models for software methods and life cycles in the performance and security domains.

    I think the key with the day job is to find a good enough job that’s fulfilling and funds your life style and pays the bills, while you can pursuit your passion, and gradually spend more time doing what you want. I see this success pattern work well for a lot of people. A related success pattern is shaping your day job to match your values, while growing yourself out of your job, while growing your job to grow with you.

  10. There is growth in almost any field if we can find the right niche. Oil is a finite resource, but we will always need oil to some extent. Even if it means recycling old oil or creating synthetic oil. We just need to find what are superpowers are and use them in a field that we can connect with.

  11. JD says:

    @ Karl — That’s right — there is always a way to find or create a Blue Ocean and change the game. I’m a fan of the book Blue Ocean Strategy which has a recipe for changing the market vs. competing on efficiencies.