John Eales

Tak­ing the plunge Don't stress when fac­ing a crit­i­cal tran­si­tion in your work­ing life: it's merely your next step

The Australian - The Deal - - News - John Eales is a direc­tor and mi­nor share­holder in In­ter­na­tional Quar­ter­back

The rugby leg­end on why that crit­i­cal tran­si­tion in your ca­reer is sim­ply the next step

IT’S all too com­mon and one of the sad­dest sights in sport: the tran­si­tion­ing ath­lete at a re­tire­ment press con­fer­ence, not know­ing what’s com­ing next, per­haps too scared to think about it, def­i­nitely think­ing about it too late. “So what are you go­ing to do now?,” comes the ques­tion. “Well, um, I’m just go­ing to sit on the beach for a cou­ple of months and, ahh, think about it.”

While they may be spared the presser, the same sce­nario is repli­cated for re­tir­ing and tran­si­tion­ing ex­ec­u­tives.

Per­haps the hard­est time to give some­one ad­vice is when they feel they least need it. Have you tried talk­ing su­per­an­nu­a­tion to a 20 some­thing? Very early in my ca­reer an Ir­ish­man lec­tured me to “love what you do, not what you did”. Later, a busi­ness col­league and mate, Chris White, from spon­sor­ship and tal­ent man­age­ment agency In­ter­na­tional Quar­ter­back, re­in­forced that: “You re­tire to some­thing and not from some­thing.” While sub­tly dif­fer­ent, both max­ims ex­hort living life in the present, for the fu­ture, and not the past.

In analysing the tran­si­tion from elite sport, J M Crook and S E Robert­son in 1991 in the In­ter­na­tional Jour­nal of Sport Psy­chol­ogy, iden­ti­fied five sign­posts for qual­ity tran­si­tion:

prepa­ra­tion for re­tire­ment,

you get your sense of self?

or­gan­ised?

com­mu­nity you can turn to; and Ca­reers in­volve more tran­si­tion than they ever have. A 2012 sur­vey by Fu­ture Work­place, Mul­ti­ple Gen­er­a­tions @ Work, found mil­len­ni­als (born be­tween 1977 and 1997) con­sider two years in a job a solid in­vest­ment. This will­ing­ness to job-hop can re­sult in about 15 to 20 job changes across their ca­reer. At the other end of the spec­trum, baby boomers (1946 to 1964) are re­defin­ing what con­sti­tutes re­tire­ment. So, th­ese same five fac­tors may be just as rel­e­vant for any­one mak­ing a tran­si­tion to an­other ca­reer or en­ter­ing re­tire­ment.

While the sign­posts are in some ways in­ter­re­lated, two stand out as be­ing rel­e­vant all the time, no mat­ter whether or not you are con­sid­er­ing an im­mi­nent tran­si­tion. One is from where you get your sense of self and the other, is how well you man­age your­self.

It is so im­por­tant to be aware of how you gen­er­ate your sense of self-worth. Is it through your po­si­tion and the chat­tels that come with it or is it through your per­sonal pur­pose, skills and achieve­ments? If you yearn for the ex­trin­sic mark­ers of sta­tus and suc­cess, like the roar of a crowd, ac­knowl­edg­ment in the me­dia or the cor­ner of­fice, then ad­just­ment to a less no­table and public po­si­tion may be more dif­fi­cult than if you get your pride from a gen­uine in­trin­sic sat­is­fac­tion with your ac­com­plish­ments and per­sonal in­ter­ac­tions.

The mas­tery of per­sonal man­age­ment skills is sim­i­larly trans­fer­able. While ath­letes are renowned for their dis­ci­pline, a trait with­out which they wouldn’t have suc­ceeded, its rel­e­vance to life be­yond the arena can de­pend on how in­de­pen­dently they have man­aged their ca­reer and the or­gan­i­sa­tional as­pects of it.

For ex­am­ple, how much did they just fol­low a sched­ule cre­ated for them and turn up at the air­port or train­ing, or fol­low the meal-plan, com­pared to how much of their ac­tiv­ity was cre­ated and man­aged by them. If you take con­trol of and man­age your own life, it will help pre­pare you for change in an or­gan­ised rather than hap­haz­ard man­ner.

Some­thing else that can’t be dis­missed is work ethic. No one is suc­cess­ful with­out it. Many peo­ple seem to for­get how hard they had to work to be suc­cess­ful in their pre­vi­ous ca­reer and never work so hard again. If you are find­ing your way in a new domain, then you start from scratch and there is no sub­sti­tute for hard work.

While the de­ci­sions you make and the steps you take to tran­si­tion will cer­tainly make a dif­fer­ence, they may not mas­ter all your demons. So one fi­nal piece of ad­vice, don’t put too much pres­sure on your­self, for the next step you take doesn’t have to be the per­fect step, nor the fi­nal step, it just has to be your next step.

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