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The Mental Strength Coach
by Andrei Jablokow, Ph.D. '84, '87

Mental Strength for Career Management
June 2013

Congratulations! You have your education from one of the finest universities. Whether you are just starting out and looking for your first job or find yourself looking for your next opportunity, there are several things to keep in mind.
The career advice that is available is often varied and can sometimes even be irrelevant. It's easy to get confused, emotional, and overwhelmed. A radical dose of mental strength and objective reality is often required.

Mental strength is about making decisions based on logic and using emotion only for motivation. How do you look at your career logically and use emotion to motivate you to succeed? In many ways you can't plan your career. It will happen to you while you are busy doing other things. At the same time, your mindset and ability to manage change will make all the difference in how it turns out.

What's Your Profession?
Deciding what to study at Drexel required you to pick from a list of choices – tightly boxed professions, departments, and degrees. The problem is that world has changed and it will continue to change.

You probably won't work in your chosen field of study for very long, if at all, and certainly not in the form you thought it would be. While your degree is valuable to the extent that you know how to think and solve problems, your real value will come from the specialized knowledge that you acquire from your own study, research, and keeping up with change.

Use mental strength and critical thinking to define your own unique perspective, methods, and ideas as they relate to your field. Open your mind to the changes that are coming and where the opportunities are opening up. Companies always value, and are looking for, people who have specialized knowledge, ideas, and know how to solve problems.

A Lifetime of Career Changes
Recent job surveys are citing statistics showing that people may go through as many as seven career changes in a lifetime. While that seems incredible and the number may be high, the facts can't be ignored and instead should be planned around. The world of work doesn't work anymore.

Almost every job change is a career change today. There are very few people that are able to have one job or remain in one profession for their lifetime. More importantly, many companies were built to work in a world that no longer exists and few, if any, are able to keep pace with change.

Many jobs have been redefined, eliminated, or outsourced. Take responsibility for your own career and don't rely on a job in your field being there when you need it. Champions have tremendous mental strength and are comeback artists.
You have to see yourself as a comeback artist if you want to be successful. Be willing to learn and do whatever it takes to stay current, even while you have a job, because that job may not last.

Whose Job Is It?
Don't think that when you have a job, that you own that job. It's not your job. The company owns the job and you own your career. There is no guarantee that the job you have, the position, the company, the industry, or the technology you have will be there for any foreseeable future.

The most successful people I know do not see themselves as owning a job, even though they may work for a company or institution. They see themselves as self-employed specialists that are currently offering their valuable services to one client – their employer.

The mental strength of self-reliance, taking responsibility for your own career, and striving for greater competence is critical to your success.

No Excuse for Bad Behavior
I am not suggesting that you change jobs and careers freely and/or often, if you can help it at all. It's best to find one path that interests you, provides the income you want, the lifestyle you desire, and enables you to have a positive impact on as many people as possible.

As long as you bring more value to your employer than they are paying you for, they will want to keep you around. If your value falls below your pay they may let you go. Always find ways to add more value and go the extra mile.

Don't expect your employer to keep pace with change or provide you with the knowledge and training to thrive in a world that is yet to be defined. Work on improving your mental strength so you have more clarity when dealing with change.

Where Do I Start?
You can start by studying what interests you, attend workshops and seminars, take a portion of your paycheck and continue to invest it in yourself, or ask someone who is successful in an area of your interest for guidance.

Get proficient with advanced technologies like mobile, social media, and apps. They are the future. Also, champions in every field are committed to personal development. The best way to improve your job and career is to study personal development. Improving your mental strength and critical thinking skills is the only way to get through this and have fun doing it.

What will you do today, this week, this month to improve yourself and increase your value?