How to Apply Janusian Thinking to Your Career

There’s an ancient Chinese proverb that says, “Dig your well before you’re thirsty.” This is a cautionary metaphor for all employees. The message is: While working your day job, build your own well (e.g. business), whether it’s freelancing, contracting, building, baking, writing or driving, — on the side.

You see, on my last day working at my Inside Sales job, I was asked to go into a conference room to be fired along with 32 of my co-workers (including two managers), although I had already tendered my resignation (more on that later).

Now periodically, while at this company, I had been making money on the side (on nights and weekends) through book sales and copywriting projects.

But deep down, I wanted to have my own business on a more permanent basis. So, I had been working on a book for about 9 months and finished it. And I had also created a website.

While on my job, I developed a dual perspective of my work life. I did my best and gave it my all, while at the same time I was working on what was next for me.

Dr. Isaac Mostovicz developed a concept called Janusian Thinking, a paradoxical framework that can be applied to decision making. Janusian Thinking is derived from the narrative of the Greek god Janus, depicted with two faces — each facing in the opposite direction. He’s also known as the god of endings and beginnings.

The obvious benefit of [a] dual perspective — and the underlying power of Janusian thinking — is that it provides the ability to consider multiple perspectives simultaneously. Failure to do this, results in decision-making paralysis, depression or in wasted effort, pursuing false goals.” says Dr. Mostovicz on his blog.

Dig your well before you need the water.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Engage in contingency thinking.

Each of these admonitions describe Janusian Thinking as it relates to your career. You can’t control when or if your company decides to let you go, but you can mitigate the consequences by being proactive and not wasting your free time on activities that don’t contribute to your career or work satisfaction.

I submitted my two-week resignation notice on what would turn out to be (unbeknownst to me) the same day we in the U.S. learned that Brexit passed.

For over two years, I worked in phone sales for this company, an international business process outsourcing (BPO). And besides on pay day, I was miserable the entire time. Each day, I sat in my cubicle and felt like a part of my soul was withering away.

Although I was relatively successful at my job, I had been awarded top sales rep and generated $20,000+ in monthly sales numbers. The work was draining, mind-numbing and depressing. Despite this I was one of a few people chosen for a 2-day sales workshop.

The day after I emailed my manager my notice of resignation, he asked to speak with me.

He asked me what prompted my desire to leave and I explained to him that I needed to do something different. He understood and told me that I didn’t have to give two weeks notice — he said one week would be fine. Which I didn’t know was proper protocol.

Nonetheless, I left the conversation with him relieved, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave in just one week. Eventually, I let him know that I would take him up on his offer and make June 30, 2016 my last day.

Had I not engaged in Janusian thinking and started to build my wall before I was scheduled to be downsized, I would have been caught off guard and scrambling for what was next — which isn’t an empowering place to be.

I’ve had someone reach out to me who is in the same situation, good at their job, yet uncertain about their future with the company and wanting to know how to navigate the waters of figuring out what’s next for their career.

You may be thinking: ‘I don’t have a well. How do I build a well that I love?”

That’s a great question. Build your well with by creating what I call a Talent Stacking lab. Talent Stacking is a process of identifying your talents, passions and preferred work style then combining them into a re-imagined career or new business.

George Washington Carver once said “Anything will give up its secrets if you love it enough.”

In the late 1890’s and 1900’s, George Washington Carver had his own Talent Stacking laboratory. His talents (skills) were experimentation and research — while his passions (areas of interest) were botany and agriculture.

He combined his skills and interests into several inventions and improvements in farming. Like him, if you love something enough, it will reveal its secrets to you. When you love what you do, you have access to unlimited reservoir of ideas and creativity.

However, in order to tap those ideas and your boundless creativity, you must take the first step and begin where you are with your current level of mastery.

That being said, I’ll break Talent Stacking down a bit further. Grab a notebook and a pen or pencil. You’re going to complete three steps and use a separate page for each step. So, on the first blank page write “Step 1” and on the second empty page write “Step 2” and on the third page, write “Step 3.”

Cool? OK. Let’s get started.

Step 1: Identify all of your talents. A talent is simply a skill or ability that you have. Write down a list of your talents, things you’re mediocre to really good at. This isn’t as daunting a task as you may think.

You may start out drawing a blank. If so you can do one or both of the following:

A. Get Insight from Others: Ask people close to you what they think you’re talents are. Simply ask, “What do you think I’m good at?”

B. The TMB Method: Another way to identify latent talents that sit dormant in your heart and mind is to look at work, jobs and careers that fascinated (or currently fascinate) you from TV, movies, books (TMB) that you enjoy.

For me, when I was younger, I enjoyed watching the television show “Who’s the Boss?” The main character, Angela, worked in advertising. Something about her work intrigued me. She was creative and got to present her ideas to clients to help their businesses grow. And her clothes were awesome!

What about you? Are there shows, films or books that showcase work that interest you in some way? Is there a common thread? How can you integrate one or more of the fictional careers that inspired you from TV, movies and books into a work model that inspires you now?

You may have a natural ability performing a certain task, but you may not enjoy it. Likewise, you may have a particular skill, but not be sure if you can get paid for it.

This is where the CEC Talent Framework comes in. CEC is an acronym for three factors: competency, enjoy-ability and compensation.

For each talent, rate on a scale of 1 to 10, how good you are at it and much you enjoy doing that activity. Then ask yourself this compensation question: “Is there anyone currently being paid for this skill?”

Step 2: Uncover your passions. Let’s take a look at what you’re passionate about outside of your talents. You can be great at writing all day, but you need to drill that down even further.

Applying your talents to a passion exponentially increases your excitement, inspiration and motivation to work on it.

Your passions can include things like: trains, technology, dogs, cats, weddings, algorithms, management, leadership, finance, politics, sports, beauty, innovation, travel, law, organic food, entertainment, wine, chocolate, education, risk/compliance, earth’s environment, aviation, science, aerospace, real estate, history, cars, comedy, human resources, music, government, entrepreneurship, health, exercise, etc.

What are some of your passions? Write them down.

Step 3: Stack (Combine) Your Talents and Passions Based on Your Preferred Work Style. Now, pick one or two talents and mix them with one or more of your passions — then combine that configuration with your preferred work style.

To discover your preferred work style, ask yourself: Do I prefer working with information, systems, things or people? Do I want to work online or in person?

Now, once you have a talent stacking combination that lights you up, begin working on a practice business. You can do this by purchasing a domain name and pointing that to a free website hosting service such as Blogger.com

You can start and work on your business as I did — on nights, weekends, holidays and using vacation time.

It may seem like a lot of effort at first, but you’ve got to take action so that you have enough momentum to escape the gravitational pull of the un-fulfillment and frustration with your career as it is.

Consider the analogy of a space shuttle leaving the earth. It uses most of its fuel during lift off as it breaks away from earth’s gravitational pull. It’s going to be the same for you as you launch your Talent Stacking experiments and practice business.

Let your big WHY (freedom, fulfillment, fun, etc.) motivate you and give you the fuel you need to get started and keep going.

Stacey is a marketing and sales coach at Incomeiy.com, a company that specializes in helping entrepreneurs increase their sales, income and time off. Her website is http://www.incomeify.com

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Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Ianus#/media/File:As_janus_rostrum_okretu_ciach.jpg

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