Diversification is the safety net in the uncertain world of business. Be it product portfolios of FMCG giants, industries tapped by conglomerates or investment portfolios of fund managers, diversification is the golden rule. But the knowledge worker many a times misses out on this cornerstone of prudence when managing his emotional investments.
Before delving further into the issue find in your story if you can relate to the following passage by Peter Drucker:
“In a knowledge society we expect everyone to be a ‘success’. But this is clearly an impossibility. For a great many people there is, at best, absence of failure. For where there is success, there has to be failure. And then it is vitally important for the individual – but equally important for the individual’s family – that there be an area in which the individual contributes, makes a difference, and is somebody. That means having a second area, whether a second career, a parallel career, a social venture, a serious outside interest, anything offering an opportunity for being a leader, for being respected, for being a success.” (‘The second half of your life’ – Peter Drucker)
Our personal stories do have a corner, which we usually pretend doesn’t exist, which relates to what the management maestro said. We all – or most of us – had a goal to save the world, be the richest person, be a super hero, be that guy in the gym or be a supermodel when we were younger. In the latter half of our twenties we have less-weird-to-say-it-out-loud goals. By the mid-thirties we are much more ‘pragmatic’ and ‘practical’. And then comes the ‘mid-life’ crisis. Ouch.
But there is a solution. One component of which is: to emotionally invest a part of you in something other than your mainstream occupation. Something that turns you on, gives you sense of achievement. Some examples are in the quoted text and you can come up with many others. Here are a few that excite me:
- Organize a study circle with students and professionals to think together on what matters; reading, writing, discussing, movies, poetry, science, business, personality development, art, religion, politics, etc.
- Teach what you are good at
- Consultancy; both pro bono and commercial; expertise is always respected, even outside the employer organization
- Swimming, team workouts and similar group activities
- Charitable activities which make lives better
- Start up a business, or explore a part time job in a totally different area, theater for instance!
The key is to select a group activity which develops into a worthwhile community.
It is easy to guess that having a ‘parallel career’ will result in profound benefits for the ‘primary’ one. Many issues arising from dissatisfied egos at workplace – leg pulling, power politics, back biting, negative lobbying, lack of accountability/meritocracy, appraisal disappointments – would die out if every one of the players had a different game to play at and outshine. It would clear the air of unnecessary desperation to prove one’s metal in the workplace. Everyone would be wiser and more secure; they would be gaining healthy returns from a diversified emotional investment portfolio.
So, what is your ‘parallel career’?
[Photo credit: @CarltonWard]