Brittle Careers

Expertise is brittle. Mastery is resilient and adaptive.

Yesterday I spoke to a group of Microsoft MVPs and community leaders about adaptation and resilience in the future of work. A key theme of that talk was that community leaders need to take care that their expertise is not limiting their potential in the rapidly changing work environment.

Expertise is brittle. Like competency, people can tend to see it as something that you either have or you don’t. Shifting markets, work practices and capability needs can mean a much desired expertise is either no longer relevant or requires significant effort.

If you define yourself by an expertise, then there is value in being vulnerable. We need to look at the world around us to understand the risks and issues in our particularly expertise. Expertise, especially externally validated expertise, can become a barrier to engagement with others and to inclusion. Next thing you know you aren’t being warned of issues or aware enough of the need to learn and adapt.

The best way to embrace this vulnerability is to see all of our work relationships as a process of mastery.  There is no standard. There is only the ongoing work to learn, to work with others and to be better. This vulnerable mindset keeps us outwardly engaged and with a strong focus on learning and adaptation.  Engaging with our communities and helping them to create change, learn and adapt is an important part of this process of mastery.

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