I guess what most people fail to see when they shift careers 5 – 7 years into their work life is how difficult starting over truly is. You would be amazed at the amount of knowledge, skills and basic understanding that becomes irrelevant or which must be chucked at the door. Welcome to a new world where you have to rapidly absorb new concepts, approaches, knowledge, skills and work-styles which seem second nature to everyone around you. Many of which are several years your junior. In this environment it is adapt or die. You will soon find yourself being a source of disappointment, frustration, awe and support to yourself and others several times within the same day. Like mad hot flashes of awesomeness or sheer and epic failure. It doesn’t get easier. Not immediately. It takes patience, tolerance and an honest to God willingness to put your ego on hold and embrace the learning experience. Believe me, it is taking a lot of patience, tolerance and hard work from those on the other side of the equation whom are attempting to kick you into gear so you could pull your own weight.
All of the above is even more true for the world of management consulting, where there is very little that is static or dependably constant. Life is a whirlwind of concepts, clients, engagements, strategies, tasks, deliverables, meetings, negotiations and deadlines. Moreover it is all happening in turbo speed. The phrase “multi-tasking” starts to take on new meaning. As does “work-life-balance” if you are not careful. The environment isn’t hostile, but it isn’t fuzzy, nor is it supposed to be.
You were hired, congrats, we recognize the talent. Now please step up and live up to our best expectation of you. Strike that, strive really hard to out-do our best expectation of you. Show up early, read, read some more, ask, listen when people attempt to explain things to you, learn the rules so you can be allowed to break the rules, befriend google, read again, remember to breathe….
Yet when you do take that moment a couple of months down the road to stop, take a long breath and admire the roses, be sure to know that “we are proud of you”. Congratulations, you made it. More often than none, the career move would have been totally worth it. Yet if that isn’t the case, there is no shame in realizing you made the wrong move, just be sure you are not just escaping back to a comfort zone.
Good luck to all of you.