There are a million times we intuitively know what we should be doing in our careers, but the chatter around us makes us question ourselves. Too much. If I have one regret in my career it's that I didn't trust myself more, earlier.
Watching Sarah Palin resign from her governor post in Alaska inspires me to be more brave in my own career. She's running her career in ways I intuitively think we should all be running our careers. And she's reflecting my own experience back to me in a positive way: That breaking new ground is difficult but it pays off.
Here are four new career management ideas that Sarah Palin’s modeling, in an inspiring way, right now:
1. Get out of a job when you’re done doing it
We know that the old ways of managing a career aren't working. But it's so scary to try something new. For example, you know you should job hop, but it's not what careers used to be. And it's scary. People are constantly telling you you'll destroy your career if you job hop.
But Palin is refusing to waste her time in the Alaska governor's office. Who can blame her? It's a lot of small-issue local politics that take away from her establishing big, national-level ideas. Of course quitting a local job is a good idea if you want to run for national office.
But most people who run for national office pretend to still be in their local-level office. When McCain announced he paused his presidential campaign to go back to Congress, he was widely mocked, because really, if you are running for President, you can't be in Congress. But for some reason we have been embracing the bullshit value that it's more important to stay in your job and perform badly than to admit you want to change jobs.
I like that Palin refuses to kowtow to the idea that you have to finish a job just because you started it. There is always someone else who would love the job that you’re leaving out of boredom. This is true of Palin, and all of us as well.
2. Ideas matter, not your resume
We don't need to elect someone based on their resume because the world changes too fast for experience to be a huge factor. On top of that, the internet makes most information available to everyone, so putting in long hours gathering knowledge is not as valuable anymore. Authority isn’t what it used to be — it’s based on what idea you have right now, not what you’ve done in the past.
We should judge people for their ideas, not their experience. I think we know this intuitively, especially young people: At my company, Brazen Careerist, we talk all the time about how your ideas are your resume – and you should aim to be known for your online conversation rather than for your resume.
If you put a resume online, the older people look better than the younger people. But the resume gives a false sense that older means wiser. Palin knows this, so she's not afraid to break resume rules – like leaving a job in the middle, and aiming for a job largely outside of her experience.
3. Careers are built on teams and networks
Today Palin announced that she's building a right-of-center coalition. This should not surprise anyone who uses social media to manage their career, because the career of the new millennium is about connections. A resume of experience is only valuable if the experience creates a network of people who genuinely care about you. Building your personal brand only matters if your brand stands for helping people create value in their lives. And online connections are only good if you are able to translate that to an offline life.
Palin knows all this instinctively. She is ditching the governor's job, which, by nature, is about helping people in Alaska, and she is making herself available to help a wider range of people. So smart. She is campaigning across to help people she respects.
And she's building a team, which makes sense because the best way to sidestep the need for experience is with teams. Entrepreneurs overcome their lack of skills by taking on partners. Middle managers overcome their lack of authority in the hierarchy by building internal coalitions. Palin is doing what we should all do: form teams in order to fast-track our lives beyond our limited experience.
4. No one controls your career except you
She could do what she's supposed to — finish up her job, focus on state-level politics, and talk to the press about ethics problems. But that's not what she wants to do. She isn't complaining that other people are thwarting her. She's not letting them.
So many people complain about being controlled by sexual harassment, unfair treatment, bad bosses, etc. But we each have power to control our own career. We can go where we can do what we want, how we want. We have to take risks to do that, though. We have to believe in ourselves and our own vision for what's best.
Palin does this. She does not make it look easy. She makes it look smart, though. And that might be just what we need to inspire the same bravery in our own careers.