Landscaping is an activity. It means that it does not happen by itself. In landscaping visible features of a landscape are modified. These elements are:
- Living elements, plants or animals. Some think of landscaping as gardening. Gardening is this element of landscaping.
- Natural elements. Think shapes, elevations or a pond. This is either natural and we adapt our landscape around it or we create them as new elements.
- Unnatural elements. Buildings, fences, anything really that we recognize as human made.
- Abstract elements. Even the weather can be part of your landscaping. How fog, snow, rain or lighting interacts with the other elements.
Now we look at our blank slate, our land. Depending on our location and the tools at hand we make decisions. a rock garden with cacti in the desert, a cascading flower bed on a hill, or a copper funnel and waterway to catch monsoon rains. The choices on how to change the existing landscape are endless, yet limited at the very beginning.
Our career is shaped in much the same way. We acquire tools, we start in a given location, we shape our career by altering elements. However, do we really step back at the beginning of a new job to take inventory of the excising landscape? Did you bring the right tools this time or do you need a different set? Are you building a rock garden on a slippery slope?
Much as landscaping it is not only the gardening you have to take care off. There are natural elements in each profession you have to address. In my profession that means I need to have the right equipment to get from A to B. Is it in place, and if not, how much effort will it take to get it in place. Remember if you cannot make it happen your boss or investors will only look at the results. I was promised that certain elements were going to be in place, others have taken effort to make that happen, but when I started it did not fall through. It took creating new tools to obtain these new natural elements, but it also delayed projects.
Similar we can see unnatural elements. Human made elements. On a small scale this can be the building you are in or changing your desk not to be on sick leave with a bad back in 2 years, but on a large scale this is also the space in where you express your work: academic papers, sales, contracts and funding. These human made elements are either build by you or shaped by you via others. Again it takes the right tools, but also a good map and assessment of your starting environment.
Now do we have abstract elements shaping our career or work? Yes, and they are harder to manage. Here creativity to think beyond you visible landscape comes in. An eyesore such as a funnel to catch periodic water or a slanted mirror to reflect the occasional lighting turns into an elevated element when needed. So if you are writing grants and research papers, but then publish a book of fiction it may look as eyesore. A wast of time in the eye of you boss or investors, but then when name recognition or internal references in a popular piece is linked to elements at work a short moment of elevation can be had. Some companies nurture the creative impulses and some of the abstract elements are more successful and live a life of their own.
“Hey wait, you did not mention living elements, are there none? Are they not important?”
They are very important and very apparent: it is you and the people who work with you and for whom you work. This is an element we work a lot on. It is gardening. Taking away the weeds. Planting new flowers to complements the seasons. Some are better at it than other, but it is only part of landscaping…