Most of us know how to write a transitional phrase or sentence; however, being in
a state of transition is something different. With downsizing, offshoring, outsourcing,
and all of the other “ings” occurring in the corporate world, nearly
all of us will find ourselves changing careers or jobs—willingly or not.
Being in transition myself, I humbly share here some practices that make a difference
for me. They help keep me sane and centered when life is crazy beyond belief.
One of the surefire ways to prove that you are an idiot in a new career or job
is to pretend that you know it all. You’re new and everybody knows it. Unfortunately,
most of us are the last ones to know this about ourselves.
Having been a contractor for 10 years, I’m always new on the job—even
if it is with a client I’ve had for years. Inevitably, the products for
which I develop information are brand new products or upgrades to existing ones,
so information about them isn’t easy to find. Ask a seasoned career veteran
or coworker to show you the ropes. No one expects you to know everything; however,
your peers expect you to initiate your training. Take some classes and read some
books. Educate yourself.
Shutting up has come in handy countless times, especially when my bobble head
kicks into high gear. Shutting up can help you get smarter because it allows you
to think. Shutting up is the best advice that parents give to children (Thanks,
Mom and Dad!), and it works great for adults, too. I’ll admit that it is
hard sometimes to keep the old trap shut.
A few years ago, I managed a project with two client employees on my team. One
was a new employee—an experienced technical writer who was a former software engineer and manager. Despite
her six years of technical writing experience, I learned that she was a true novice
to the industry. She told me that project planning is useless, wondered aloud
who would be stupid enough to spend $30 on a book to learn information design,
and made sure I understood that grammar is not important. In this situation, my
talking would have been a big mistake. I kept my mouth closed, for both our sakes.
“Let go” is my mantra. Let go of getting it right the first time,
of looking good, and of always having your act together. You can be graceful under
the pressure of transition by just letting it be what it is. Transition is downright
awkward and can give you the feeling of being a gangly, clumsy adolescent again.
If you unwind and enjoy yourself, you may find yourself having a second (or third)
Being skilled in the art and science of transition is a necessity for the new
economic reality. It takes practice, not perfection. Practice for the sake of
practicing and, before you know it, you’ll become a transition master. I’m
practicing right along with you.