Monday, May 27, 2013

Managing A Career

It's not difficult to find an article that essential suggest free market capitalism is a flawed system, unless government intervenes and ensures it is not dominated by greedy capitalist who take advantage of the masses.  Or a lawsuit, by perhaps Professional Football players, that asserts that the NFL or Team Doctors committed fraud by not informing players of the risk associated with concussions or head trauma.

Both examples highlight the importance of choices.  Free market capitalism is not a perfect system and needs responsible regulation that encourages choice and competition.  Choice is critical because it empowers society to utilize their purchasing power, or decision to buy or not to buy a product/service, as a way to balance the power of corporations.  Competition is critical to ensure that customers/consumers have products/services from many companies available that align with their needs or values.  Companies that are unethical, harmful to the environment/society, or fail to add value for customers/consumers can effectively be punished by society's choice to purchase from other companies, and competitors' ability to take customers away.  Regulation that discourages monopolies and anti-competitive behaviors and encourage health and safety effectively supports choice and competition.  Any other regulation effectively sends jobs overseas.

Similarly, choice is critical in one's decision to play football.  It's pretty obvious that sustained collisions in the NFL can cause brain damage.  We have evidence from previous football players and boxers that show that without a doubt.  One could imagine that an NFL player could choose not to play in the NFL, or perhaps play in the CFL.  Better yet, players could lobby and support a league that did more to protect a player's safety.  In fairness, a critical component of the NFL lawsuit is whether Team Doctors knowingly misled players or kept details from players regarding the severity of the head injures and potential consequences.  But on the flip side, I doubt any NFL Team Doctor was hired to inform players about the long term consequences of them playing in the NFL.  They were hired to rehabilitate them and extend their careers.  Furthermore, nothing prevented the players from obtaining information regarding the severity and consequences of their head injuries.

As a nation we have a tendency to not focus on the power of choice.  Instead we focus on how every American is entitled to not live in poverty or how every player in the NFL is entitled to safety.  Those are goals that are worth fighting for, but not rights that are just given to you.  You can choose to not live in poverty, but there are choices that must be made in your life that will guarantee that outcome.  In addition, you can choose to not have brain damage, but you may be required to not play in the NFL in order to guarantee that outcome.

So what does this mean for your career? It means take responsibility for it because no one owes you anything.  Most people believe they are entitled to their jobs unless they decide to not show up, harass co-workers or be insubordinate.  Just like they believe they are entitled to not live in poverty or to safety as a professional athlete.  The choice to partake in a capitalist society, play professional football or be an employee entails risk and does not guarantee wealth, safety and job security.  Only making the right choices will guarantee the desired outcomes.  Although there are numerous avenues to avoid responsibility and be a victim in today's society, resist the temptation and manage your career accordingly.  No manager, attorney, politician or union is responsible for your career.  But if you fail to take ownership and fail to make the right choices, you can guarantee that you will always be surpassed by those who do.

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