Career Woman

It’s time to disrupt yourself


The rules of work have changed and to stay in the game you need to know how to adapt to them and, at times, break them. In the past, the rules of the game were fixed. They were set by big organisations and bureaucracies. Now there is a democratisation of the workforce that enables you to have much more freedom and choice about how and when you work. The gig economy and the transition to an automated and fully flexible workforce are here!

And yet we are still encouraged to think of our career in a linear fashion: we enter the workforce and explore a few roles, then midway through our career we land something that will keep us happy until we retire.

Become the leader of your career

Careers these days are fluid, organic and adaptive, which means they need a degree of reinvention.

Gone is the notion of one organisation and one role or function for life. Gone is the notion that someone will plan your career for you, and you can sit back and just let it happen.

The person you most need to rely on for career success is YOU. You must become the leader of your own destiny, your own career.

Salim Ismail, the author of Exponential Organisations and an expert in helping organisations leverage technology and strategy to grow faster, suggests, ‘Today, if you’re not disrupting yourself, someone else is; your fate is to be either the disrupter or the disrupted. There is no middle ground.’ Whilst his comments were directed towards organisations, it equally applies to your career. Now more than ever you need to be comfortable designing and orchestrating your own career path.

Make the new rules work for you

It starts with understanding that the old parameters for how a career operated are no longer relevant.

Ditch the old career parameters

Create new career parameters

Job for life — a few companies with a number of different roles Multiple careers — potential for multiple companies, roles and career paths
One role and one company at a time Portfolio of roles — jobs on the side, side hustle or ‘moonlighting’
Full-time or part-time employment with hours relatively fixed Flexible work arrangement that suits your lifestyle and needs
Job taker: you take the job that is on offer


Job maker: you create your own job that fits your lifestyle, skills, competencies and ambitions
See yourself as working in a ‘role’, which has no defined end date See yourself as working on a ‘project’, with a more defined start and end date
Manage your career, which has a linear progression


Own your career, which has a circular progression with multiple points of career reinvention
You are hired because of your formal knowledge and qualifications. You are hired because of your life experience, expertise and competencies.
You rely on recruiters, job advertisements and your reputation to get a job. You rely on your network and market positioning to get work. It’s the value you deliver that matters.

Ditch the ‘should do’

Being ready to embrace the future means you need to step beyond what’s familiar and comfortable.

This is often an internal debate between what you ‘could’ do and what you ‘should’ do.  The ‘could’ being something that is unexpected, challenging, risky or slightly left of centre.  While the ‘should’ being the job that people expect you to do, or the job that your beliefs limit you too.

Breaking away from the ‘should’ do means you have to walk away from the expectations of others and shift your expectations of yourself.

It starts with ditching any unhelpful internal dialogue you say to yourself about your career that may be holding you back or hindering you.

Ask yourself:

  • What are the rules (both written and unwritten) I’ve been told about my career and career change?
  • Which of those have held me back?
  • Which ones have propelled me forward?
  • Which ones are no longer relevant?
  • Which rules am I prepared to ditch?
  • Are there new rules I need to create to help me leap into a new career and stay professionally relevant?

As one of the world’s greatest artists, Michelangelo, said: “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that our aim is too low and we reach it.”

If you aim high you might just reach it, but if you aim low you are unlikely to go beyond your aim.

About Michelle Gibbings

Michelle Gibbings is a workplace expert, who works with global leaders and teams to help them get fit for the future of work. She is the Author of ‘Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work’ and ‘Career Leap: How to Reinvent and Liberate your Career’.

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