The Advancing Leadership Blog

The power of conversation

To exchange ideas is to learn. Social by nature, us young professionals love two-way engagement as we spend our days conversing through numerous different outlets.

Conversation allows us to offer and receive perspective, shed light on thought and intention and also to motivate one another in pushing down barriers as we work to find, and fill, our true potentials. Cliché, I know, but so true.

I think sometimes we, especially us Millennials, forget this (probably because we’re doing a million things at once and while for the most part very focused, it can be easy to fall off track with so many diversions in life).

That’s why I was so pleased to see that u30pro, an online community for the ambitious young professional, has made conversing with one another easier than ever. Other groups similar to u30pro, as well as more structured programs like TEC’s ASPIRE Program act as forums where young professionals can feel comfortable asking questions; ones that we’ve been struggling with in our careers. These discussions are held in honest and comfortable environments and they’re seemingly more important than ever to have. Whether around a boardroom table in a face-to-face setting or using Twitter, Facebook, personal blogs or other widely-used online forums, the conversation among us is alive and well.

The result? A shift has begun. Young professionals are bravely doing what our predecessors – the X’s and Boomers – didn’t. We’re discussing what’s important to us career wise right now, and in 30 years from now. We’re setting standards and drawing lines as we instate healthy work life balances. We’re setting goals that are farther-reaching than ever before. And we truly believe that we can meet and exceed them. Nowadays we’re asking more out of our employers, and you know what? Our employers are getting more from us in return. We’re empowering one another. And we’re learning from one another.

Take for example, a blog challenge posted on u30pro this month that asks, What are you afraid of in your career?

As part of an organization dedicated to the personal development of business leaders, I felt inclined to invite the other Under 30s – the Gen Ys who work at TEC Canada – to take part in this particular conversation. What I discovered was truly interesting…

When asked what she is afraid of in her career, our Meeting Resource Coordinator answers:
Being recognized for my accomplishments is important to me so I hope that whatever stage I’m at in my career, I am recognized for my hard work. I am also afraid that I’m not going to be stimulated enough with what I’m doing as I become older. Are things going to become mundane? I’m concerned about my career being too ordinary. I hope I can travel the world one day, meet new people and have the opportunity to be creative.

Our Administrative Coordinator says:
I’m sure like many others, my fear is that I won’t do all the things I want to when I am young and then regret it in 20-plus years from now. How do you find that balance? I am also afraid of not finding my “work passion” and settling for a career path that I don’t fully enjoy. Settling is NOT an option!

Our Web Content Specialist says:
My biggest career fear is that people will try to push me in the direction their expectations dictate, rather than the direction I want to go, and that I’ll end up damaging relationships and my career in the process. Despite being assertive about how I see my career, I’ve been in situations where it’s expected that I want a promotion and I was pushed that direction – after all, doesn’t everyone want to be promoted? Or was seconded to a much sought-after role because, well, it was high profile in the organization, everybody wanted it and therefore so should I. Both situations made me unhappy, and neither of the positions were in my areas of interest, and neither were a step on the path towards the career I wanted to have.

And me, TEC’s Marketing Communications Coordinator, answers the question with another question:
Will I be able to reach my expectations career wise when I feel, at times, utterly consumed by other possibilities and opportunities that life throws at me? I’m a dreamer! I want to do everything and see everything (travel, go back and get my masters, start my own non-profit). But at the same time, I am so proud of my hard work and dedication I’ve put into my career that I don’t ever want to put it on hold in fear of sabotaging it. It’s the opportunity cost and only I can decide! Where and/or how do I find that balance?

As you can see, we are four Under 30s who are strong. We’re determined and do not in any way shape or form want to be held back from or let anyone get in the way of achieving our goals. This was a reassuring conversation for me, as I realized that others have similar hesitations and concerns as I do!

In speaking with my colleagues, I learned that individual pursuit for success, while unique according to each person, is also similar in that we’re all on a journey, full of challenges. Showing support through conversations provides ourselves with clarity and enables us to have a voice. This allows us to go out, be confident, make change and get what we want!

Keeping the conversation going means that in the future when we’re asked what we fear most in our careers, we can respond with a simple, “absolutely nothing.”

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