We get known for what we do and have always done. That’s how personal brands evolve.
It’s easy to ride out a positive brand. Just keep doin’ what you’ve been doin’ so you can keep earnin’ what you’ve been earnin’…and maybe a little more, if you’re lucky.
Tested know-how is a kind of career currency. You know when and how to use it successfully– a comfort to the people you work with.
When we add value and make a difference, our work satisfies us.
Then sometimes the ground shifts and we have to shift with it. Or we may see a unique opportunity and decide to push ourselves into new space.
In both cases, your know-how comes with you, providing the foundation for your next move.
Be ready…and steady.
Think of your knowledge and skills like an investment account. The more equity you build, the more prepared you are for surprises.
Things have a habit of changing when you least expect them to:
- The company reorganizes, merges, or gets bought.
- You get reassigned (up or down), furloughed, or dismissed.
- You become ill, disabled, or injured.
- The product or service line changes and the processes you’ve mastered with it.
Suddenly, the once clear path to sustainable success becomes confusing, uncertain, and even frightening.
Take heart: Your rock is still there. It’s your know-how.
The transferable skills, knowledge, and experience that you’ve always relied on remain, ready to be tapped into anew.
The task at hand now is about focusing yourself on immediate problems and needs. Then putting your know-how to work to resolve them.
Recognizing how your know-how can start to restore your sense of control is a crucial first step.
Jack McCallum, acclaimed writer for Sports Illustrated and author of nine books, most of them about great basketball teams and players, is a case in point.
He is an expert at the nuances of basketball moves like the pick and roll. His sports and journalistic know-how are clear in his writing. In his early sixties, he was gradually throttling down his career.
Then he got prostate cancer.
So what did he do? He wrote about it. First in a op ed piece in The Morning Call newspaper where he shared his personal logic for following the “watchful waiting” protocol. He got lots and lots of emails from lots and lots of people–prostate cancer survivors, widows, and physicians.
This response spawned his decision to turn his journalistic skills for research, interviewing, and rational thinking to the challenge of prostate cancer decision-making. What he discovered informed his own treatment decision (which was ultimately to have his prostate removed) and to demystify, as much as that’s possible, the complex arena of prostate cancer treatment.
His first result was ending up cancer free with minimal side-effects.
(Suggestion: If you are someone or know someone with prostate cancer, this book is an important read, actually more like a conversation with a good friend over coffee…lots of important factual information, anecdotes, cases, and a few laughs when needed.)
Build portable know-how.
Almost everything you know how to do at your job is a transferable skill.
Whether you need to rebound from a calamity or you want to explore a new direction, there are many ways to give your seasoned skills a new platform and focus.
Consider utilizing your:
- Web design skills to format e-books for self-published writers
- Financial skills to support a non-profit needing a comptroller
- Public speaking skills for a cause that needs a strong voice
- Fine arts skills to help traumatized children express themselves
- Project management skills to aid a community group in chaos
Your know-how is exclusively yours. You developed it in ways that express who you are, and it has become integral to your brand. It’s there when you need it, so take good care of it. Then when you’re called upon, you’re ready to step up.