Part One: Lessons from the Accidental Career

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In this 3 part series, we look at 3 types of career paths and the lessons we can learn from them. Find Part two, Should You Just Give Up On Passion? and Part Three: Lost in Your Career? How To Make It Work

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Raise your hand if you’re a failure. Is your hand up or down?

Okay. Let me clarify. When you’re African, there are four acceptable professions. Doctor, Lawyer, Pilot or Disappointment to your Family.

So, I ask again - raise your hand if you’re a failure. Now I can see you wanting to put your hand up but thinking, ‘I’m not a failure!’ You know what? You’re right. Gone are the days of thinking that there are only a handful of acceptable professions in the world. These days we have people in all sorts of careers, thriving and all round being the best at what they do. Most of the time, they didn't even plan to get there!

There is a myth that exists within professional circles that path to your ultimate career is linear. Basically, that the road to your perfect job is a straight line and that you’ll always end up exactly where you want to be. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that that isn’t true. The road to a great career is sometimes a very non linear path and this is how people end up with accidental careers.

How do you identify the accidental career? Well, if you speak to a seasoned professional who says, “I’m actually a trained ABC but I ended up doing XYZ” that’s always a sure sign. Most people who end up studying for one thing never truly end up where they intended. What’s even more fascinating, is they sort of happen upon these careers through a random work assignment or accepting a job in a different field.

Accidental careers have their lessons. Here are a few.

  1. There’s no such thing as useless experience. Every job, no matter how small, is always an opportunity to learn. You’ll find that many skills are transferable and often times, one ‘accidental’ task is setting you up for the next big thing.

  2. You plan, God laughs. It’s an old saying that holds true to this day. In the job industry, you need to learn how to be fluid. Work assignments that fall out of your usual day-today end up being the biggest teachers and you never know when you’ll need those lessons.

  3. You’ll never know until you try. Most people who ended up doing things completely different from what they studied or their chosen career paths will always say that they never thought they would love the job they have now. It probably looked daunting and they didn’t think that they could do it but years later, they’re kicking major butt at their jobs.

Have you ended up in a field different from what you ever imagined? What have been your biggest lessons from that? We want to hear from you in the comments below!

Read Part Two: Should You Just Give Up On Passion?


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    Francis | March 20, 2018 19:23

    This is both a challenge and a life lesson....

    Eric Gloff | March 02, 2018 06:30

    Very true.Learning something does not necessarily mean that you have to practice it what will earn you a living comes from the almighty GOD..."We plan God Laughs'

    SILVIA | February 22, 2018 13:00

    Big lesson there

    fred | February 21, 2018 19:26

    it is motivating to hear that

    Mary | February 14, 2018 12:28

    a lesson am gonna grab any opportunity that arises

    Michelle | February 12, 2018 10:38

    This is very encouraging.

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