The Fish-Pond way of career planning

I sometimes envy military or civil service for their complete ownership of career planning of its people. All the folks have to do is to perform. This seems a great convenience when those in the so-called open and free work-world have to make career choices and decisions frequently. They need to plan their career themselves. Left to itself, it goes nowhere. 

Make no mistake: making one’s career is one’s own responsibility. The military or civil bureaucracy do so for their own sake. Planning and executing careers of its men is required to achieve their objectives in their gigantic systems. They don’t really love you for nothing. 

So what’s for us – the lonely warriors. Hopping from working at a startup to giant multinational to starting our own shop which fails and takes us back to safety of a ‘job’. 

I always like to use models to give context and structure to a problem. Well, here is one – what I call the “Fish-Pond” model to analyze and plan your career. It’s a 30,000 feet view – so don’t consider it prescriptive. It’s a framework to think, not set of instructions to follow. 

ImageA pond of water has fish. Big fish, small fish, fish in-between. Big fish eat small fish. Fish eat weeds. Fish grow within the pond as they eat and move around. Sometimes the pond grows bigger. Sometimes it shrinks. At others, it disappears. A smaller pond can get intruded on by outsiders. It can get dried up. The fish are of a variety. The fish can outgrow the pond. The pond can get overly populated. All fish in a small pond know each other. Fish in a big pond may never have crossed each other. While the fish can move everywhere in a small pond, fish in a big pond have territories. Generally, big fish have more say than small fish (they can eat them, remember!). There may be alligators and turtles too, but consider them as minorities. 

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