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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

Passing on the (career) love: The 10 Commandments of Career Change #7

Finding the right balance between our needs and those of others is a continuous process of learning. Depending on culture, gender, age, personality and so on we may be inclined to favour one over the other.

However, more likely than not, you have been the beneficiary of someone else’s kindness, generosity or desire to give back without any expectation from you. As far as human evolution is concerned, these are truly transformational acts. They tap into our higher faculties of compassion and empathy that lie beyond the reactive conditioning from which we operate by default.

An interesting scene in The Tree of Life movie depicts an evolutionary step in our cognition when a dinosaur decides not to kill a wounded animal: the first act of compassion...

Once you are on the path to creating your ideal career, implementing the principle of interdependence would require that you share of the social and professional capital that you are building up with others who are coming up behind or alongside you. But how can you do this in a competitive world?...

As a doctor, these mechanisms are built into professional structures. Career progress in medicine requires a certain amount of commitment to teaching and collegiate behaviour. This helps to oil the wheels of the profession and maintain standards. For example, when I was a junior doctor applying for hospital jobs, it was an accepted practice to call/receive calls from those thinking of applying for the same job and having a conversation there and then on the ward. You would just call the hospital and ask to bleep/page the current holder of the post you were applying for even if it were at some cost to you. Outside the small world of clinical medicine, I’ve found that retaining this attitude of is an important value for me, but the rules of the game are different...

In a competitive environment, particularly one with no rules of reciprocity or collegiality, you may have to be discerning and pull back if you feel that you are over-giving or serving an interest that is not aligned with your values. It may help you to:

  1. Build your tribe (see commandment #6): Connect with like-minded and like-hearted individuals and nurture these relationships by sharing of yourself and your capital. Learn as much as you can from these safe relationships.

  2. Operate from deep self-awareness and clarity about your motivation: are you giving with or without an expectation of something in return? Are your expectations reasonable? What fears come up when you think of unattached giving? Understanding your motivation/intention is essential to being efficient and effective in your actions.

  3. Understand people and relationships more deeply: Who is meant to be part of your vision/your mission and why? How do you know? Whose vision/mission are you also part of and what do you bring? How do these visions link up in the bigger picture? Who else can you connect with and bring on board?

The highly respected Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn talked about being neither dependent nor independent but evolving to become inter-dependent. Some believe that we are here simply to learn how to do this and allow life to flourish without having to resort to the brutality and selfishness of our ancestors. Will you join in or will you let fear hold you back?...

Until next week,


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