Tag Archives: chance events

Transform your Career by shifting: Shift 3 From Narrowing Down To Being Focused On Openness

Shiftwork is the work we all have to do to manage, survive and thrive in the face of a world where Shift Happens.

I’ve identified 11 shifts that we have to make (see here) and the first shift (see here) and second shift (see here) below I give a few tips about how to achieve the third one.

Shift 3: From Narrowing Down To Being Focused On Openness

When trying to make a decision it is easy to become overwhelmed by the choices and so it makes sense to narrow down those choices to a couple of alternatives or even better to one option.  This strategy is useful when:

  • making the wrong choice doesn’t matter much
  • when the situation is simple and you can think through all the implications of your various options
  • when all the alternatives are obvious and easy to understand in advance
  • when things are not not changing or not changing rapidly and can be predicted accurately
  • when you can reverse the decision and start over with the same alternatives still available to you

However many decisions, and many career-related decisions are not like this.  Often things are changing and changing unpredictably.  There are many complex factors bearing on the decision, and because of this uncertainty, changeability and unpredictability, it may not be possible to “undo” a decision.  Under these circumstances being too focused on one course or action of goal may mean failing to spot a better one along the way. Bright & Pryor (2007, Career Planning & Adult Development Journal) call this Luck Readiness (a term coined by my friend from Life Strategies Roberta Neault), or opportunity awareness.

Ways in which you can focus on openness include:

  • engaging in possibility thinking
  • entertaining “wildest dreams”
  • reading lots
  • reading material and attending meetings addressing topics outside of what you think of as your area
  • go to a gallery
  • go to a museum
  • see a music gig
  • talk to friends
  • talk to enemies
  • listen without talking
  • look for 10 reasons why someone else has got a point
  • see other ideas as gifts not threats
  • hold opinions but never be sure
  • be oppositional with your own ideas and open with others ideas
  • change your viewing/reading/learning/cultural habits
  • using the “I’m feeling lucky” link on google
  • read blogs
  • follow links on twitter
  • accept invitations
  • make invitations
  • vary your social life
  • sit in a different chair

  • rearrange your office
  • talk a walk in the woods/high street/mall/in your mind
  • travel
  • look at a scene, turn away, look again and see something different. Repeat 10 times
  • when things go wrong dont curse, instead say how curious I wonder why?
  • never conclude
  • appreciate quitting is often success – like smoking, drugs, reckless driving, make quitting work for you
  • network by giving and sharing yourself, your ideas and tips
  • if you must set goals set fuzzy ones
  • see yourself as lucky
  • experiment with everything
  • take things apart
  • be curious, especially about what you take for granted

Carole King Tapestry – Albums that speak volumes about careers and life

Carole King Tapestry – Albums that speak volumes about careers and life.

I am always out of step.  I was a huge Elton John Fan, just when his career dipped in the early 1980s and David Bowie was uber cool.   Now a couple of months ago a friend introduced me to the delights of Billy Joel’s Songs from the Attic, recorded during my early 1980s Elton phase, but comprised of songs composed in the early 1970s, I will review that in career terms in another post, but I want to turn to my favourite period, the early 1970s for a classic album that I discovered only a few months ago – Carole King’s Tapestry.  As I said I am always out of step.

It opens with I feel the earth move – which opens like a lovely V8 1970s muscle car. A big bass line to go with earth moving, skies tumbling, and a lovely career word – mellow. The song also talks of our limits of control and our impulsive reactions – good chaos notions.  Have you achieved total mellowness in your career? This was something to aspire to in the late 1960s and early 70s.  I declare a campaign to bring back mellow in the career counseling lexicon – a feeling of quiet contentment, reflective happiness and a lack of anxiety – something many of my clients would like to achieve.

So far away (doesn’t anybody stay in one place anymore) – this for me reminds me of the transient nature of work, and the incessant travel involved and the transient relationships one develops.  Carole sings “if I could only work out this life my way” – how often have we felt this or heard this from our clients.   A song about closing our mind to the loneliness of travel – essentially change and how we manage it and maintain stability of relationships and place.

Its too late – a song about depression at the inevitability of change as people grow apart despite their best efforts to hold things together – the notion of slow shift or drift that can leave us feeling disenfranchised, lost and despairing.  “I feel like a fool” – a line reflecting that feeling that there must have been something more that I could have done – a plaintiff attempt at trying to rationalise the limitations on what we can control.

Home Again – “Sometimes I wonder if I am ever going to make it home again it is so far and out of site, I really need someone to talk to” .  The powerful notion of home, being grounded, being with the familiar, in a trusting place with trusting and understanding people – a call for reassurance and the certainties that home represents in the midst of constant change and travel.  It reminds me of the importance of establishing a “home” for people in transition, that amidst change and chance, people need a sense of order, that chaos has both order and change – all change and no order is too much for anyone to deal with.

Beautiful “you’ve got to get up every morning with a smile on your face and show the world all the love in your heart and then people are going to treat you better, you are going to find that you are beautiful (yes you are) as you feel”.  I love the optimism of this song, if the injunction is a little too strident!  It captures the essential importance of persistence and the importance of optimism and giving.  Uplifting.  Indeed it captures some of the more important things that we as counselors are trying to achieve.

Way over yonder “…is a place that I know, where I can find shelter, from a hunger and cold, …that’s where I’m bound”.  Another song about home, security, a safe place, a happier place.  It is a song about aspiration, self-improvement, about the benefits of being able to stand proudly in “true piece of mind”.  For me this can seen as occupational daydreams, thinking optimistically about what things will be like if all goes well.

You’ve got a friend – “when you are down and troubled and you need some living care, and nothing, nothing is going right, close your eyes and think of me and soon I will be there, to brighten up even your darkest night, you just call out my name and I you know wherever I am I’ll come running to see you again, Winter, Spring Summer or Fall, all you have to do is call”  –  Well I could cynically say this sounds like the advertising speil of a telephone counseling service!  Less cynically, at face value, I just love the sense of service, connection and reaching out that this song expresses.  Given recent UK surveys have suggested a startling number of 30 and 40 somethings feel lonely, disconnected and unhappy in their work, maybe we need to give more time to the notion of loneliness and work’s contribution to it.

Where you lead – “I would go to the ends of the earth.. where you lead I will follow, anywhere that you tell me to, if you need me to be with you…”  Again this could be the stalkers refrain, but again it is a song about support and connectedness.  It is making the statement that I will compromise, and that what I thought I wanted and what it turns out makes me happy are different things.

Will you love me tomorrow – A gentle song about insecurity, again a refrain about the inevitability of change – is this a transient thing or something longer lasting. It reflects the caution that wisdom dictates from bitter experience of having our commitment dishonored.

Smackwater Jack – A cautionary tale of a frustrated man who takes it out on others with his shotman “you cant talk to a man when he don’t want to understand”   – this is the line that resonates with me, thinking about some of those uncooperative or even gung ho clients, who really do not want to be there, or only want to be with you as long as you agree and validate all their ideas, which may not be appropriate.  We have to find ways of taking the shotgun from them, to disarm them before we can make any progress.

Tapestry – “an everlasting vision of the ever changing view…impossible to hold…he moved with some uncertainty as if he didn’t know” If this isn’t a song about complexity and chaos I do not know what is.  Change, uncertainty, complexity, chance events, limitations, it is all here!

(You make me feel) like a natural woman – “I used to feel uninspired and when I knew I had to face another day, lord it made me feel so tired” – I beautiful song about completion, an optimistic song about sudden and unexpected change transforming a person – the Chaos Theory idea of the Phase Shift.

I know it is a risk to over analyse anything, let alone a work of art the Tapestry represents, but rather for me it is an inspiration  see Beyond Personal Mastery ® model for more details (http://tiny.cc/mastery).

There are lot of ideas in this album that apply to our lives and careers and in there I can see a lot of messages about change, complexity, phase shifts and much more besides.  Ultimately I love the optimistic note of much of it, as well as the wisdom and recognition of limitations and uncertainty.  All in all, some useful ideas for being “mellow”. What do you think?

Chaos theory of careers tutorial: Using the Change Perception Index

Chaos theory of careers tutorial: Using the Change Perception index CPI


The CPI is a short online inventory that is designed for use with individual clients or teams to measure reactions to change.  It can be useful when helping individuals with career, personal or organisational change.

The CPI addresses ten key factors that can significantly facilitate or impair people or teams capitalizing on change.  It is based on the Chaos Theory of Careers that states that:

  • Change is inevitable
  • People and circumstances are subject to a complex array of influences that are also changing…
  • …which means change can be unpredictable and we cannot control everything
  • We cannot always know in advance what will happen and thus we have to be comfortable with ambiguity
  • Change can be non linear – sometimes small steps lead to disproportional outcomes and vice versa
  • There is always the potential for things to change out of all recognition

An acknowledgement of these realities is an important predictor to how people will respond to change.  Failure to see these realities is likely to result in resistance, denial, stress, obstructive and destructive behavior.

Individual responses

People and groups can use four different drivers to address change and ambiguity. They are:

  • The Goal driver.  Setting goals has the effect of focussing on one point and ignoring all other sources of complexity and change.  In rapidly changing, unpredictable or far horizon situations over-reliance on this driver can lead to inflexibility and a lack of opportunity awareness.
  • The Role driver.  Dealing with change or complexity by dividing things into two simpler black and white categories can under-estimate or ignore important information, options or possibilities.  Over-reliance on this driver can lead to inflexible ‘with us or against us’ , ‘either or or’ and overly narrow options.
  • The Routine driver.  Dealing with change or complexity by establishing strict rules, routines, policies and procedures.  Over-reliance or strict adherence to this driver can lead to inflexible and unresponsive reactions to changing circumstances and exceptions to the rules, policies and procedures.
  • The Change driver.  Dealing with change by continual revision, experimentation, trial and error, pilot projects, learning, feedback, and openness to new ideas,  new market or organisational or personal conditions.

The CPI measures these 4 drivers and the following six:

  • Continual change – degree to which change is acknowledged as inevitable
  • Need for control – degree to which uncertainty is acknowledged
  • Small steps – recognition that small steps/ details can be important
  • Dramatic change – recognition that things may change profoundly
  • Pattern making – comfort with ambiguity and allowing things to emerge
  • Bigger picture – seeing things in terms bigger than personal priorities

The test consists of 50 questions online and is available from Bright and Associates online testing service at http://www.jimbright.com/tests or register to take the test directly here (payment is via paypal’s secure system – use your credit card or paypal account!)

After completing the test online that takes about 20 minutes, an instant interpretive report is generated on screen and is also emailed to the individual or test administrator. ( The test can be purchased instantly online with a credit card or via pay pal. Alternatively bulk administrations can be pre- purchased for immediate access and control over who receives the emailed report).

Figure 1 A profile graph from the CPI online report



Figure 1 shows the graph generated at the end of the interpretative report, summarising the scores on the different factors for a client of mine.  This was a person who enjoyed working overseas.  They had a work history of moving from one assignment to another.  They had a very positive attitude to change as reflected in their high scores for Continuous Change and the Change Driver.  This person had a strong sense of purpose and understood how his work was important to others in his organization, to his clients and more generally.  This is reflected in the Bigger picture score.

There were no challenges in terms of this person understanding the benefits and inevitability of change, counseling focussed around discussion of roles that provided an avenue for meaning and mattering consistent with their Bigger Picture values.

Figure 2 A  person who is very open to change and dislikes routine


Figure 2 is a profile of another person who is exceptionally open to change.  All the relevant scales show very high scores (Continuous Change, Small Steps, Radical Change, Seeing Patterns, Change Driver).   This person can be seen to be a very big picture thinker (consistent with their score on this factor). Their sense of the bigger picture and a relatively lower Need for Control score, probably allows them to be content to see how things emerge over time (Seeing Patterns score high).

In fact this person is so into change, that any attempts to get them to adhere to a routine are likely to be meet with resistance, disengagement, or even attempts to undermine, challenge or change the routine.  In some circumstances, where there is little scope for such change, such a person may be personally frustrated or even destructive.

They are more likely to best at leading change, and inspiring or reassuring others about the benefits of change.

Figure 3 A Goal driven person



Figure 3 shows a client who is open to change, and to some degree understands the uncertain nature of change. However this is counter-balanced by a high score for the Goal Driver indicating that their strong preference is to set goals as a way of managing change and reducing complexity and uncertainty.   Other strategies are less frequently used, leaving the impression of a person who likes to take charge of changeable circumstances.   They are likely to see failure in terms of setting unrealistic goals, or as an opportunity to set new goals.

Comparing the three people illustrated in figures 1 – 3, we can see how the CPI is able to distinguish quite distinct approaches and attitudes to change.  This can be very important in guiding counseling sessions or in considering vocational options and plans.   The first person looks for changing and challenging assignments that are congruent with his values and sense of purpose.  The second person looks to continually change and to avoid routine at all costs, whereas the last person likes to “tame” change though the use of goal setting.

Client 1 might struggle in roles that went against his values, Client 2 might be positively disruptive unless continually stimulated with change, and Client 3, might become rigid and stereotypical in the face of a rapidly changing environment that prevented regular goal attainment.



The Change Perception Index is a practical tool that allows HR professionals, Counselors, Coaches and Change agents to engage clients on some of the most relevant dimensions of change, and to gain insights into their client’s preferences, and responses to change.

The test can be accessed for individual purchase at http://www.jimbright.com/tests or register to take the test directly here (payment is via paypal’s secure system – use your credit card or paypal account!)

Orders of multiple administrations can be arranged by contacting Bright and Associates.

The online version is based upon the earlier pencil and paper Complexity Perception Index.  For information about the reliability and other psychometric properties of this instrument, see Bright & Pryor (2007).


Bright, J.E.H. & Pryor, R.G.L. (2007). Chaotic Careers Assessment: how constructivist and psychometric techniques can be integrated into work and life decision making. Career Planning and Adult Development Journal, 23 (2), 30-45.

Bright, JEH & Pryor, RGL (2007). The Complexity Perception Manual. Bright & Associates: Sydney

Pryor, RGL & Bright, JEH. (2011). The Chaos Theory of Careers. Routledge. New York.

Chaos Theory of Careers and Edward Lorenz

On Wednesday 16th April 2008, in Cambridge, Massachusetts a meteorologist died. You may wonder why this event that appears so distant in time, space and relevance to your career development should be noted in this column. Well, the meteorologist in question was called Edward Lorenz, and he is commonly agreed to be the founding father of chaos theory. His great contribution was to demonstrate the limits in theory and practice of long range predictions in complex dynamic systems like weather patterns. In particular he is associated with the butterfly effect – the observation that small changes in the initial conditions of systems can have profound outcomes – described by Lorenz in the question, if a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil, does it cause a tornado in Texas?
The relevance to career development is that the weather system is not the only dynamical system, it fact we are surrounded and composed of such systems. Indeed we can think of our careers in these very terms and that is what myself and my colleague Robert Pryor have been working on for the best part of the last decade – The Chaos Theory of Career Development.
The weather system provides a good metaphor for career behaviour. The first thing to point out is that when we try to understand the weather we think in terms of patterns – weather patterns. For instance most of us in Australia are all too familiar with the weather patterns such as an East Coast Low, a Southerly buster, and the bigger patterns such as El Nino and El Nina. All of these weather patterns may have had a direct impact upon the career development of some of us. It would not hard to find farmers, or suppliers of watering systems who have gone out of business due to the droughts caused by El Nino. Others can lose their livelihoods sustaining uninsured losses caused by the storms created by an East coast low or a southerly buster.
The second point is that while there are broad patterns in weather systems – for instance, Summer and Winter, trying to predict the weather for any specific period becomes extremely difficult, and trying to do it more than a week or so in advance gets closer and closer to impossibility as the time horizon moves out. Just consider what has laughingly passed for our summer this year or think about the mad scrambling of warning messages from the Bureau of meteorology given the thankless task of trying to predict the path of storm cells across a city. Finally, Lorenz’s butterfly example that seemed so crazy back in 1972 when he published it, doesn’t seem crazy at all, when we consider how small variations in ocean temperature near South America appear to be related to drought or floods in New South Wales.
In the past we have sought predictability in our career plans. We have visited career practitioners expecting some form of fortune telling. We have interviewed staff for jobs with the asinine question “where do you expect to be in 5 years time?” However these appeals to predictability are not borne out in practice, where it has been demonstrated time and again, that the vast majority of us experience unplanned events that significantly influence our careers, and that those who are in jobs that closely match their predicted interests are no happier or more productive than others in the same role but whose interests do not fit with the predictive model.

The Chaos Theory of Careers asserts we should consider our careers much in the same way we think about the weather. That there are broad patterns of relative stability, but at the same time there are significant patterns of instability and that trying to predict much in advance is futile. Rather we should adopt the same approach that we do with the weather. Continually monitor the patterns, develop coping strategies to weather the storms, and rest career plans on seasonal patterns. That means recognising that although you had planned for a “summer” job, “summer” actually turned out to be more like “winter”.
This approach to careers emphasises that we need to be actively engaged in planning and revising our careers on an on-going basis, and that developing strategies to embrace and thrive on unpredictability and change will be more successful than relying on a long term prediction or plan. Vale Edward Lorenz.

Career improvisation

Making it up as you go along is probably one of the most effective success strategies you can implement. The trouble is that patrons of the predictable try to brainwash lesser mortals like you and me with their grand narratives (tall stories) about how anyone can achieve complete control of their lives. These narratives are eagerly devoured by those wanting quick and simple solutions and those who feel the cold chill of accountability for past and future action in their roles.
Making it up as you go along is an anathema to the controllers and quick-fix folks, and those who employ this strategy consciously often have to conceal it with a cloak of plausibly logical actions whereas many use it without being completely aware of it and suppress it under a cloak post-hoc rationalisation. Making it up as you go along is seen as somehow illegitimate, shallow, ill-considered, reckless even. Merchants of mediocrity will try to sell you their flow diagrams and 7 point plans. They will encourage the use of pros and cons lists, planning tasks and simple formulas for success. They push the view that if the plan cannot be articulated in every detail, it has not been “thought through” or is the product of a fuzzy and unsound mind. We all love and draw confidence from a well-thought out plan.
With colleagues Robert Pryor and Tony Borg, we have developed a butterfly model of career development. Imagine a race track in the shape of a figure of 8 on its side that you are continuously driving around like a race track. Each journey around the circuit never exactly repeats any other. Do this for long enough and what results begins to resemble a butterfly and hence the name of the model. Imagine now that the left-hand circle on the track represents all your planned behaviour and the right hand circle of the track represents all the unplanned behaviour.
What it demonstrates is that career development is a continually developing series of planned actions which are impacted by unplanned events which in turn lead to revisions or new plans, which in turn are impacted by the unexpected and so on. The model is slightly more complex because you can circle around for periods in either the planned bit of the circuit or the unplanned bit, and then move unexpectedly into the other realm. This explains why in life we can experience periods of relative calm and predictability, and others that seem to be never ending turbulence. Overall, the point is that there is an ongoing and inevitable relationship between the predictable and the unpredictable, between pattern and surprise and between composition and improvisation.
Making it up as you go along is often called improvisation. Improvisation implies there is a structure around which you can improvise. Improvising without any framework at all simply results in a self-indulgent blast of white noise that achieves nothing other than to alienate all who witness it. There is a saying in jazz circles “improvisation is composition speeded up, and composition is improvisation slowed down.” It implies that improvisation ultimately has rules and structure, but these are loose or fuzzy enough for creativity to be invited in.
Often in jazz, the musicians establish the structure of the piece (“the head”) and then the musicians improvise around that. It is not a bad way of thinking about yourself or your organisation as a beautiful complex composition around which you can improvise.
Why is it some people seem to be able to make it up as they go along, whereas others struggle or are scared of this approach? Part of the answer lies in the concept of life purpose. Those who have a clear sense of life purpose will intuitively act in ways that keeps intact their sense of purpose, and hence purpose becomes the force that drives, directs and limits action. In a sense knowing your purpose is a bit like being able to recognise your essential tune (or core business for an organisation) – it provides the structure and sets the boundaries for improvisation. Purpose is not about goal setting, purpose defines what can become a goal, goals do not define what can become your purpose.
Getting a sense of the bigger pattern, the linkages, the limitations and the opportunities will help to inspire confidence to improvise and will also increase the likelihood that the improvisations are bold, original and creative. In other words successful.

World cup careers, fine lines, hands of God and all that chaos

Sometimes a career can be blighted if you get in arms way.  So Harry Kewell, a footballist who plays for Australia is dismissed from a South African field for a handball offence in the World Cup. Temporarily then, poor Harry whose hand and arm were in the wrong place at the wrong time had his career aspirations thwarted. Indeed at the time of writing this, it may be the moment a nation’s world cup dreams are thwarted. Who knows, for these moments never reveal their real meaning at the time.

Generally speaking in the game of Association Football, hands are only used to thump other players, grab large amounts of cash for endorsements, and to hold the manicured hands of teamate’s wives and girlfriends, or should that read “hands of teamates, wives and girlfriends”. An apostrophe and a comma radically alter the meaning. Two of the tiniest grammatical devices can make all the difference between a team player and a player of the field. Small things matter.

When it comes to hands and football, big things matter too. Like God and his hands. Those who hold long grudges will recall that long before Argentinian hoofer Maradona allegedly got more interested in bottoms link , he had the hand of God, at least he claimed it was the hand of God that saw him punching the ball into the net to score a goal in a previous World Cup.  Now aside from the interesting theological point about whether God knows the rules of football, whether God cheats, or whether the referee who awarded the goal possessed the eyes of the Devil, we witness a small difference between a head and hand held close to the head changing the course of a World Cup.  Maradona’s teammates subsequently had very different experiences in their career compared to the hapless English players by winning the World Cup.  Something those English players never experienced.

Decisions made rightly or wrongly in the flash of a second can and do alter lives and therefore careers and sometimes profoundly so.  One of the joys of sport is that these life-defining moments are played out in real-time for us.  Fortunes are made and lost by line-ball decisions, “brain snaps”, and being in the wrong place or right place at the wrong or right time. The plans for the game go out of the window in the face of the unexpected.

Perhaps the reason sport can be so engaging, compelling, worth arguing over, worth recalling is that despite all attempts to capture the play within the strict perimeters of the lines and the strict parameters of the rules, the players and officials being human cannot always restrict themselves to such idealised closed systems.  They do go outside the lines and sometimes rules – sometimes deliberately and sometimes unintentionally.  I am sure that the tension between the ideal sporting performance and the more messy reality that most sport entails is why it can be such compelling drama. Sport like careers is chaotic, open, non-linear and inherently unpredictable.

So we can deconstruct Harry endlessly henceforth, and maybe Harry himself would give his right arm to have that moment over again. If he had self-deconstructed his right arm, the ball would have missed him, and the result would have been a goal. Instead the ball hit his arm, and the result was a goal from a penalty.   In Virgil’s Aeneid he wrote  “Arma virumque cano” (Of arms and the man I sing), Harry’s unplanned event makes sport more chaotic, interesting and relevant. Relevant to the reality of our careers as lived and not as planned. So this blog is my song of arms and the man.

SHIFTWORK: the work we do to help clients with their shifts

Career counselling is the single most effective career intervention that produces the greatest gains for
clients in the shortest time (Oliver & Spokane, 1988; Whiston, 2000). The superiority of career counselling
over more constrained approaches such as workshops, classes and computer programs is due in no small
part to the flexible, contingent and personal nature of the counselling process. Despite this, many of the
theories, procedures and tools designed for career development emphasise stability and characterise
career development as a problem to be solved, rather than career development as an ongoing process.

Approaches that emphasise certainty and hold out the promise of providing neat answers are attractive to
people confronted by the uncertainties and complexities of their lives. It is therefore not surprising to
discover that clients seek out certainty in career counselling and prefer that counsellors give advice,
opinions and answers (Galassi, Crace, Martin, James, & Wallace, 1992). This presents a challenge because
we live in a world that is not simple, certain and predictable, and a world that is populated by people
who are complex, changing and inherently unpredictable.

I have re-defined the term “Shiftwork” as a term that describes the work we as coaches, advisors, teachers, and counselors must do to assist our clients with their career shifts, and the work that clients must do to thrive on their shfits. It derives from our Chaos Theory of Careers (Bright & Pryor, 2005, 2007;Pryor & Bright, 2003, 2007) that explicitly incorporates the concept of ‘phase shift’ in its account of careers in terms of complex dynamical systems.

As career counsellors, there are some cornerstones to Shiftwork that we must embrace if we want continue
to provide clients with the greatest gains (Whiston, 2000). We have identified the first 11 shifts that we
may need to embrace (if we are not already doing so). It would be an oversimplification to interpret
these shifts as meaning an abandonment of current practices in favour of new ones and nor are we suggesting
these shifts represent movement along a continuum. Both concepts are variants of pendulum attractor
closed systems thinking (Pryor & Bright, 2007). Rather, these shifts are characterised as a move from a
more simplistic approach to a more sophisticated and complex approach consonant with the realities of contemporary work and the gloriously complicated dimensions of being human.

Shiftwork can be defined as all those activities in which career counsellors engage to assist their clients to develop the skills of adaptation and resilience required to negotiate and use productively the fluctuating fortunes of their careers. It includes assisting clients to reinvent themselves continually, to identify opportunities, to recover from setbacks, to find meaningful work that matters to them and to others and to capitalise on chance.

Hence Shiftwork covers the major developmental tasks in 21st century career development.

Shift 1: From Prediction To Prediction And Pattern Making

Shift 2: From Plans To Plans And Planning

Shift 3: From Narrowing Down To Being Focused On Openness

Shift 4: From Control To Controlled Flexibility

Shift 5: From Risk As Failure To Risk As Endeavour

Shift 6: From Probabilities To Probable Possibilities

Shift 7: From Goals, Roles And Routines To Meaning, Mattering, And Black Swans

Shift 8: From Informing To Informing And Transforming

Shift 9: From Normative Thinking To Normative And Scalable Thinking

Shift 10: From Knowing In Advance To Living With Emergence

Shift 11: From Trust As Control To Trust As Faith

Want to read more? This is an extract of a paper called SHIFTWORK: A CHAOS THEORY OF CAREERS AGENDA FOR CHANGE IN CAREER COUNSELLING by JIM E. H. BRIGHT and ROBERT. G. L. PRYOR. It appeared in the Australian Journal of Career Development Volume 1 7 , Numb e r 3 , S p r i n g 2 0 0 8

I’ll be posting more on the Chaos Theory of Careers over the next few months.

Also look out for me in Vancouver from March 8th, keynoting at the British Columbia Career Development Association Conference.

check out my youtube video called “where will you be” – search for it using the quotes to get directly to it, or look down the right hand column of this page for an embedded version!