Reinvention – A Universal Journey?

How can you deal with career changes, both good and bad?

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How can you deal with career changes, both good and bad?


Reinvention – A Universal Journey?

How can you deal with career changes, both good and bad?

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The concept of reinvention (whereby an individual reinvents their career path) is certainly not a new issue in the case of the sports industry. Most of us will be aware of the hurdles that retired sports players often have to overcome in preparing for life after sport and often at a very young age.

There is a consistent need to reinvent oneself to find new direction and purpose and this is still a battle many face today, but interestingly not just within the sports sector, this impacts all industries and will affect all individuals at some stage.

For instance, I’ve come across a few lawyers and accountants that also sought career changes during their careers and there are some good examples of former lawyers running top hotels as an example. From a personal perspective, I have also worked with an experienced Chairman who became a crime novelist.  The potential need for reinvention really is vast.

Shaping the future for reinvention

Many before have tried to create change in this area but there is an opportunity right now for businesses and entrepreneurs generally, to shape the future of reinvention. In some cases this also impacts younger talents with some great skills that can be of real benefit in business and in many disciplines and sectors.

Everyone needs to reinvent themselves as they journey through their career and life whether that means adapting to corporate life or taking the plunge and going it alone as a start-up venture or entrepreneur.

Many people can feel a bit lost once they retire from a lifelong career to do something new, regardless of age. We are also constantly hearing about the numbers of people who now suffer with a loss of self-esteem and depression as they are unsure how to find new career paths or what it takes to make the leap and start your own venture.

This is also directly related to the whole psychology of individuals and the fact that their expectations of life are very different today to what they once were.

Looking back

What was acceptable in the workplace in the 70s, 80s and 90s is no longer acceptable today. Ironically, one could argue that there was greater genuine care of people and community in those eras as there was a much bigger focus on values, teams and community.

The argument in line with this theory is that the baby boom generation has been too materialistic and financially focused with not enough emphasis on community and society.

Of course, this is a touch simplistic as the 70s and 80s also showed at times, a shocking lack of care and some communities were severely damaged. Argubaly the NE has not recovered from some of the Industrial closures of that period.

It was all a contradiction; the age of the ‘one company employee’, a real sense of strength within communities and some socially poor government.

Today’s era faces its own challenges. Organisations need to think more deeply about their business cultures and how they can nurture that talent to grow.

As touched upon earlier, there is clearly an issue with the work environment when current reports show that over 350,000 people per year resign from their jobs due to stress and mental illness.

One in ten are now said to suffer form depression, add to that the rise of the gig economy where people are opting out of corporate life to become entrepreneurs in order that they can truly express themselves, and it isn’t hard to see that change here is vital.

It is not a great picture so companies also need to reinvent themselves along with entrepreneurs and leaders too. Reinvention is about evolution and growth – the development of new skills that are aligned to the moment.

We all need to continuously evolve

Two key issues that seem to keep cropping up are the need for large companies to employ disrupters and embrace innovation and also that younger talent, especially women, have been encouraged to have a voice and then they reach the workplace environment and are told that their voice is no longer valid? Companies are constantly asking for new leaders but in my view, they are not doing enough to nurture leaders.

One might ask, why does reinvention apply to everyone – surely this is reserved for those who have no choice but to retire from their chosen career early?

It is an interesting debate but in simple terms, the work environment is changing so fast today that the reality is we all need to evolve and develop new skills all of the time.  It is also worth noting that it isn’t just people that need to reinvent themselves but companies too.

No one can afford to stand still

The truth is career development now is no longer the responsibility of the corporate world; it’s the responsibility of the individual.  Companies have a need and a responsibility to develop people of course, but the best development comes via positive and strong cultures and teams that naturally push people to new levels.

The younger entrepreneurial workforce that are climbing the career ladder or starting a new business right now, need to find a new way of reinventing, growing and developing but one that they own independently which is undoubtedly more liberating.

Talent is after all talent and in world where people relentlessly argue about skills gaps and staff shortages, we cannot afford to waste it. In simple terms no one can stand still and this quote really sums it up for me:

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” – Alvin Toffle

Reinvention is a reality of the modern world. Just as digital technology begins to dominate our lives, so there is an increased desire for community, a sense of belonging and a desire for personal interaction. In a world, which is transparent, controlled and digitalised, people are the great differential – and the challenge is to ensure we really do maximise ourselves.

Chris Sheppardson is founder of EP Innovates

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Reinvention – A Universal Journey?

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