When it comes to your career. Be like a chameleon.

I’m sure a fair number of you would have had the PNAU ‘Chameleon’ song start playing in your head the second you read the title. Which is a good thing. Because it’s positive and makes you feel good.

Which is what I hope you feel at the end of this article.

You’ve heard it over and over again throughout your school years … from primary to secondary to university … “we’re preparing you for the next stage”.

And so your school teachers and university lecturers did.

But as we’ve said before – a career is not linear. There are various stages. So what happens when you graduate university? Who is preparing you for the many many stages of your career?

The short answer is that it’s actually up to you.

I spent a lot of time thinking about this and reflecting on my own career journey so far. And for some reasons I likened the challenges I faced and how I overcame them … with a chameleon.

You see, apart from being able to win every round of hide and seek, a chameleon is a pretty cool creature. We can take its MANY characteristics and use them to guide us through our career journeys.

1// Chameleons use their long tail when moving in trees to grab a branch and secure their position (to accomplish balance when necessary). 

Ahhhh yes. I am aware that we do not share the same anatomy as our chameleon friends. They key takeaway I want you to focus on here is that as you move through you career, you will be reaching for new goals consistently. And there will be times when you feel unbalanced, stressed, overwhelmed … and that your goals are impossible. 

So you need to pay attention to the factors in your life, that can balance these feelings out. These should be things that help you – I doubt that chameleons would be reaching for anything less than solid branches!!!

For example, I use running as my outlet. I like to balance any feelings of stress with a long run on the weekend.

Other factors that can help you feel balanced as you move through your career journey could include: meeting with a mentor, spending time with family or attending industry events (to remind you, you’re not alone!!!).

2// Chameleons move slowly, using one limb at a time. 

The glimpses you have of other people’s lives online, are usually not their whole story. Think about it. How likely are you to post about a failure vs an accomplishment? So while it might seem as if your peers/friends are moving onwards and upwards without you … this is most likely not the case. 

Competition can fuel more doubts that necessary – and I’m here to assure you that there is absolutely nothing wrong, with moving through your career at your own pace.

A solid role for a number of years, where you consistently produce quality work, hit KPIs, and have a tangible impact on a business’ success, will sit more favourably with your next employer, than jumping from role to role with little to no explanation for this process.

3// Although chameleons are not social animals, they tend to stick together. 

A HUGE part of your career journey, will be your ability to work and make an impact as part of a team. Yes, we tend to harp on about this a lot at generationYOU – but it’s only because we really want this to sink in.

It’s easy to laugh about group assignments at uni and enjoy the many, MANY memes that come with them. But that last thing you want, is to be put in a situation where you lack emotional intelligence skills, when working on a project with your new colleagues.

Make an effort with the conversations and relationships you build with the people in your team – and if you find yourself in a larger organisation, don’t simply limit yourself to your own department. Branch out. You never know what words of wisdom Mark or Mary from Accounting may have to offer you!

4// Chameleons have unique eyes, which can move separately from each other and achieve a visual field of 180 degrees. 

Our careers are tricky things. Sometimes it’s easy to focus on the ‘big accomplishments’ and forget that every day we sit at our desks, are out on site, or are working on a hands-on project … that we are living out our careers. 

Having the opportunity to study for so many years, put into practice all of that theory and continue to learn is a HUGE blessing.

While our (human) eyes cannot achieve a visual field of 180 degrees, it’s good practice to continually take time to reflect on your career journey and put into perspective where you were, and where you are now! Look at you! Facing difficulties! Celebrating wins (big and small)! Contributing to your business’ success! Being a team player! Continually growing as a professional!

All of these things make your career journey worth experiencing … and they all sit under your WHY.

5// Chameleons can blend into most environments with ease. 

Yes, probably the most well-known fact about chameleons … is that they can shift their body colour to blend in with most environments.

While initially a light-hearted statement … if there’s one characteristic of a chameleon that you might like to spend some time thinking about, it’s this one!

Why? Well. While you should try and adapt to your work environment (think mannerisms, dress code, team culture), you shouldn’t pretend to be something you’re not!!!

Trust your gut instincts. Because while you can ‘blend in’ for a little while, eventually your true colours will show … and if you don’t want to be working within the company who hired you … that’s going to come out in one way or another.

So to sum it up … 

Let’s face it, I could have just listed each of these traits without using the chameleon reference … but where would the fun be in writing (or reading) this article!?

I would encourage you to use the characteristic associations above, to help you become a kick-ass professional in whatever industry you’re aiming for!

Who knows, maybe one day you too could be writing for generationYOU about careers and chameleons!!