SMALL CHANGE: your career is a unique business



an ebook


Ciarán Fenton

How small changes in your behaviour have a big impact on how you work, lead or follow

That’s the title of an ebook I wrote in early 2020, initially, as a series of 50 short blogs – index here – and as a framework for a longer book.


Section 1 YOU

Section 1.2 Your career is a unique business

Do you believe that your career is a unique business – one over seven billion in its uniqueness – or do you feel that’s just a fancy metaphor with no application to you?

Or perhaps you feel that work theory doesn’t matter to you because power in the workplace is all that matters.

If you don’t have power or if you can’t afford to lose your job you must “suck it up”, keep your head down and play the game. Is that how you feel?

You could well argue, therefore, that being a “micro-business” doesn’t matter if you feel you are a comparatively weak business in the market.

But even if you feel that speaking about your career as a micro-business is meaningless in practice you cannot deny that the statement is true.

You are a unique professional services firm on legs selling your services for cash and soft benefits, whether you like it or not.

If you accept that premise, even reluctantly, it follows that:

  • if you are not running you as a business, you are missing out
  • if you are running you as a business, you can improve it
  • and, above all, you have a unique competitive advantage. You.

The dictionary definitions of “career”, “unique” and “business” are:

  • career /kəˈrɪə/ noun an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress
  • unique /juːˈniːk/ adjective being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else 
  • business /ˈbɪznəs/ noun a person’s regular occupation, profession, or trade; commercial activity

If you have doubts about your uniqueness consider this from the University of Zurich (July 2018): “Every person has a unique brain anatomy”. Like fingerprints, no two people have the same brain anatomy, this study has shown. This uniqueness is the result of a combination of genetic factors and individual life experiences.

But you know this fact already. It’s not controversial.

What is up for debate is the extent to which uniqueness matters in a world where power and money appear to trump uniqueness.

My contention is that we underutilise and under-appreciate our uniqueness; that organisations therefore so do and so we have more power than we think we have.

What does this mean in practice for you?

It means that if you work for others you can rebalance your relative power by paying more attention – through small changes in your behaviour – to the business of being you.

If you lead others, and you accept the principle of uniqueness, then you can creating a better environment for the people you lead to thrive. All boats will rise.

Finally, if your organisation accepts the principle of unique career micro-businesses then it can reframe its entire “talent” strategy around that principle.

The chapters that follow explain how to achieve these changes.

First step is to accept that you’re unique.

Difficult to believe, I know.

But it’s true.

Ciaran Fenton

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