Our workworld is moving rapidly into the Age of Innovation! The key to career success today is quite different from what we were taught in the past. It is not stability and specialization in one field, and the “40 year Womb to Tomb” but flexibility with expertise, creativity and the ability to cross borders and boundaries, to solve problems, meet challenges and work independently, as well as with others. I have labeled this the “Yo Yo Career ModelYou’re On Your Own”.

Esther Dyson, in Release 2.0: A Design for Living in the Digital Age, states that the fundamental talent for the rapidly approaching Innovation Age is creativity, whether artistic or intellectual. The constant flow of new ideas and technology is the key. “The most successful will be those who can design innovations to help the company get or stay ahead.” Employees will increasingly need to be good at thinking rather than blindly following routine.

Be aware that skills for your career success in our emerging Age of Innovation are almost totally different from those required for the Industrial Age. Then, you were successful based on your political talent for “psyching out” what your boss wanted and passively plugging away.

In my book The Career Chase: Taking Creative Control in a Chaotic Age, I stress the need for a new set of skills, which I labeled the Type CC Change Catalyst – the Personality of the Future. These are control, creativity, change, challenge, competency, common sense, confidence, courage, curiosity, commitment, and cooperation. To these I’ve added a twelfth very essential trait – a sharp crap detector. This means that we must become critically aware of the “tyranny of conventional authority” the myths and stories guiding us toward the past beliefs, expectations and assumptions.

Yo Yo Tips for Career Success

  1. Find work you really enjoy. We will be living and working an additional 20 years. People who make it to 65 will live a lot longer. As of 2005, according to National Center for Health Statistics data, males aged 65 could expect to live to 82, for females – it was 85. The best anti-aging strategy is to find you the purpose to pursue with passion until your last breath.
  2. To gain this: Know your Success Criteria (what you really want from your worklife) – your Glass Balls, which cannot be dropped as opposed to your unimportant Rubber Balls. Take a “Brand You, Inc.” approach.
  3. “Up your skills” by staying on a constant learning curve, both for technical and “soft” skills (especially communication). Stagnation is deadly in today’s workplace.
  4. Adopt the philosophy of “learning along the way.” Frequently perfectionists procrastinate and focus on their failures, discounting their successes. As Toffler forecasts, “The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn.”
  5. Realize that anger, frustration, cynicism, hostility, and a victim mentality – often the response to unexpected changes are major health hazards! Do check out the web site of Positive Psychology (www.ippanetwork.org).
  6. Realize that the uncertainty and chaos coming from change is really the initial step to career creativity.
  7. Think outside the conventional box! As we move to the Age of Innovation in the 21st century, all of our basic assumptions are being challenged. Success in the Agrarian Age required land; in the Industrial Age, capital; and in the Information Age, knowledge and brains. Success in the Innovation Age requires creativity, imagination, and thought. Innovation will be the engine of economic movement, but knowledge is the fuel.