Archive: Don’t be a groundhog

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Don’t be a groundhog
By Douglas E. Welch

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CareerCampLA 2: Helping to Build the Carer You Deserve Friday, March 18, 2011
Los Angeles, California

A hybrid conference/unconference dedicated to “helping you build the career you deserve”. The day will include scheduled speakers, ad hoc presentations and breakout sessions on all aspects of building your career. CareerCamp is for anyone who wants to build and/or improve their career.

Visit the CareerCamp web site for more information

For some odd reason, maybe because I grew up in an area that actually harbored groundhogs, I have always had an affinity for the large rodents and their namesake day of February 2. The groundhog is the harbinger of spring in my old area of the country and if he sees his shadow, he could be foretelling another 6 weeks of Winter, which was never a good thing when I was growing up in Ohio. The groundhog also had a slightly different meaning for me as I often saw human groundhogs all around me — people afraid of their own shadow, quick to duck back in their burrow and hide whenever adversity came along. As you might imagine, in your career you don’t want to be a groundhog. Let’s use this Groundhog Day as a reminder of that fact.

One of the largest problems of being a career groundhog is that you don’t just hide away from the difficult parts of life. Just as often you run away from the wonderful, exciting parts of life — the big challenges, the big opportunities that could take your career to the next level. It is quite normal to be scared of change, but you can’t let it stop you from engaging in those opportunities. Running away to your burrow is counter-productive in so many ways. It is always a retreat, a “hunkering down” for the six more weeks of winter that may never arrive.

The Better Groundhog Nature

So how do you defeat those times when your groundhog nature gets the better of you? Take a lesson from the animal itself. It noses out of its burrow a little, checking out the surrounding area for danger. Then it scurries back in. Then out a little more — then back. Then out still further and further in a cycle of constantly stretching how far he gets from his burrow, always looking for the greenest shoots and the best feed. He always has his burrow to retreat to for safety and that allows him to challenge himself a bit more each day. You have one great advantage over the groundhog, of course. He is risking life and limb to venture out, you are risking much, much less.

Why don’t you try a little of this good “groundhogging” each day. Find small ways to stretch yourself, both personally and professionally. Check out a new neighborhood or a new restaurant. Ask a co-worker what it is like to do this or that work. Look at the other jobs open within your own company, or at a company you admire. What can it hurt? You can always rest in the safety of your home base and charge up your risk muscle for the next day. Seek out those opportunities that might have scared you off in the past. Look for new opportunities you may have missed.

Let’s choose February 2nd as our “reset” day. Most New Year’s Resolutions have come and gone by then, so Groundhog Day gives us a milepost, and a reminder, to reengage in our careers and our lives and challenge ourselves in new and unique ways. Don’t hide away in your burrow until Winter is over. Come out and let the new Spring of your career begin!

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