Job search in Canada: Personal Growth = Professional Growth.
January 13, 2021.
I guess since we are about to talk about personal growth today’s essay will be very personal.
Before coming to Canada in 2019 I was convinced that what I do to my life is called self-development. It has never occurred to me that the skills and knowledge that I have been developing driven solely by my desire to be a better human being will have a price tag here in North America. To be honest, when I came to Canada, I thought that I have no remarkable skills, and I am just another generalist in the market — the market that requires specialization. To my surprise, what I have realized was the opposite — after securing my first job I soon discovered that people are actually willing to pay money for what I thought was just my personal growth.
Today I want to share some thoughts on how what market demands can actually be translated into the skills that we can develop through personal growth.
Let’s look at them one by one.
Emotional Intelligence (Self-Awareness).
Since I was a kid I was always interested in psychology. You know how some kids are disassembling toys and hand watches or dissecting worms in the garden to see how they are constructed on the inside; well, I was the kid who wanted to “dissect” a human soul. I wanted to gain insight into what makes people tick and what makes us humans so strange, but even more than that, I wanted to understand how my own mind works. And so, I studied psychology, philosophy, and myself.
What I call self-awareness is a soft skill knows as Emotional Intelligence, and it is one of the most important skills that employers look for in a potential candidate. Conflict management, conflict resolution, self-management, organizational skills — all that jazz stems from knowing yourself.
Lao Tzu wrote: “He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.” We can build upon this. He who knows himself gives his best because he keeps the eyes on his purpose. He is not easily swayed away from his path by destructive criticism or shallow praise. He is self-motivated because he is aware of his internal drivers. He is effective because he knows how to create conditions for his best work.
High EQ must be something you need for your career. Self-awareness is something you need for your life.
We are all born curious. You won’t find a child that doesn’t want to know how this world works. Yet something happens down the road. We get broken. We lose our hunger for knowledge. Some people get satiated with what accumulated knowledge and spend their days stagnating in old limiting beliefs. Some architect the worst kind of fate as they transform themselves into arrogant know-it-alls.
Those of us who have succeeded to preserve our inner child and that inquisitiveness that is innate to our very being are the ones who possess the skill of learnability.
Everyone claims that they are fast learners. Few can actually take ownership of this claim and prove it in action. The future will show that the most successful organizations will be the ones that we call now learning organizations, and the definition of such is simple.
A learning organization is one that is comprised of constantly learning individuals.
Creativity (Remixing skill).
Albert Einstein once said:
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”
Put it in other words, the more information you have in your mind, the larger is the number of possible combinations in which you can arrange this information.
Let’s use Lego as an example, for illustration purposes. Your capacity to build things is primarily limited by the number of Lego pieces you have. The more building blocks you have, the more is the room for expressing your creativity.
The mind is the same. You can’t be dumb and creative at the same time. That’s not how it works. The most creative people you’ve ever met are probably also excellent generalists with diverse interests. They might have a certain unique skill set of specialization, but they also know a little bit about many things across multiple disciplines.
“Everything is a Remix.” That’s the TED talk, a short movie, and a quote by Kirby Ferguson. His work is great supporting evidence to the fact that all new stuff is just old stuff rearranged in new ways.
Creativity is a remix. If you adopt this mindset, you will unlock new levels of creativity, because everything that enters your mind can be perceived as Lego blocks that you can use to build new things. Who knows? Maybe it will be something that the world has never seen before.
Collaboration, to put it simply, is a skill of team play. When we are little we play together in a sandbox. When we grow up, nothing is really changing, just the sandbox gets bigger. The planet becomes our sandbox.
We grow to understand that our actions have an impact. We learn that the evil that we do to others returns to us, sometimes with delay, sometimes in an unrecognizable form.
When we work in groups (read — when we play well with others) we unlock the higher levels of cognition that cannot be reached during solo-activities. Things like brainstorming, argumentation, competition, things that make us improve collectively, not just as individuals.
Reframe your skills.
I could probably continue to expand on every skill that is highly valued by employers. But let’s have just a short snapshot instead.
Marketing skill is the ability to share ideas with others. We are hard-wired to market (spread) ideas. What do you do when you learn something new and something good? You instinctively want to share with your loved ones. Now, how do you do it in a way, that they actually follow your message? That’s the marketing skill.
Sales skill is nothing but an ability to create an opinion. Everyone is a salesperson in that sense. When we recommend movies, books, and restaurants to our friends — we sell. Sales skill is nothing but a skill of persuasion.
Business Development skill is an ability to build relationships and create win-win situations (i.e. thinking not how to get a bigger piece of a pie, but how to make the pie bigger).
Facilitation skill is a skill of explaining hard things in simple ways. We all do this since childhood when we explain the rules of the game or help our classmates with homework.
Adaptability — building your personal relationship with change. Want it or not, the world is changing. The struggle appears when we resist changing with it. If you are a newcomer in Canada reading this, congratulations. You are the most resilient species on the planet. It is easier to dance with the evolving world when you invite and welcome your own personal evolution.
I was developing myself and by doing that I was unknowingly developing marketable skills. I share this not to brag. I share this so that you could gain some perspective.
When I arrived in Canada, I was lost and confused because I was deceived by my own mind which was convincing me that there is nothing special about me and that I have nothing to offer potential employers. I was wrong.
Do not make the same mistake of letting your negative self-talk stop you from pursuing your best life. You are special and you are already worthy of all the good things you hesitate to truly desire for yourself — a better career, a better job, better working conditions.
We must develop ourselves and be better human beings and maybe that alone is not enough to become indispensable professionals, but it is certainly enough to open doors to conversations that will help you to transform yourself into such.
That’s the paradigm shift that has occurred to me, and I know that it is just a way of seeing things, but hey, at the end of the day what isn’t? Maybe something you’ve read here will inspire you to explore your own conception of your skills, and the role that your personal growth will play in your future stellar career.