A few folks including JJ and Balaji chimed in with very good points. On my drive home I remembered the following section from the book “The Startup of You” by Reid Hoffman which directly and elegantly addressed this exact same question.
This is on page 30 of the latest hard-cover edition:
Your competitive advantage is formed by the interplay of three different, ever-changing forces: Your assets, your aspirations/values, and the market realities, i.e. the supply and demand for what you offer the marketplace relative to the competition.
The best direction has you pursuing worthy aspirations, using your assets (skills, degrees, experience & knowledge), while navigating the market realities. We’re not expecting you to already have a clear understanding of each of these pieces, however. But the best way to learn about these things is by doing.
In this blog article, I will humbly postulate that of the 3 puzzle pieces, market realities are the most important. In fact, here’s how I would assign relative importance to these three pieces:
The reason is quite obvious: assets and aspirations are fully in your control and with some effort and compromise, you can change those. However market realities are harder to change but have a heavy influence in making or breaking your career. Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha spend quite a bit of time in the book explaining how it is possible to put yourself in a “different” market reality if you are not succeeding in the one you are playing in.
The authors generously shared an executive summary of the book on slideshare. It is a fantastic read and we recommend the book/summary every time the topic of career comes up.
And we created the meetup group specifically so you could:
- Understand those market realities and
- Adjust your assets and aspirations to those market realities.
If you are in the Portland area, we’d love for you to join and brainstorm ways to enhance our careers in powerful meaningful ways.
(This post was originally published on LinkedIn on February 20, 2015 here)