The Value of a Portfolio Career

Several years ago I was one of 11 invited to contribute to the book Scrappy Women in Business: Living Proof that Bending the Rules isn’t Breaking the Law. The purpose of the book was to tell the stories about how we got to where we were in our careers. It was a great reflection on all the different paths my own career took over the years which was not a very straight path.

I call my career a portfolio career because it was a range of investments I made in me, investing in something new until I got the return I wanted, then moving on to the next investment in me. This is how I ended my chapter in the book.

Why I’m Telling All of You All of This

For me, this career path has been quite an adventure. I rarely got bored with what I was doing. I’m a lifelong learner, so I was constantly seeking new opportunities where I could keep learning and growing.

Quite simply, I am happiest when I’m tossed into something new and I need to learn how to do it. I roll up my sleeves and dig in. I’ve often thought that it would be wonderful to have been perfectly clear about my entire career path when I was young – to know exactly what it was I wanted to do and then just do it. But now I realize that this would never have worked for me. After coaching hundreds of people through their own slipping and sliding and shifting and swaying and saving career journeys, I have learned that it doesn’t work that way for most of the working world.

My own career path has been like sailing. You never take a straight path to get to where you want to go. You always have to know which way the wind is blowing and adjust your sails. You depend on a higher power that you can’t control to fill your sails, and you sail as close to the wind as possible while making headway with sails full and your hair blowing wildly in the wind. There is always the urge to move forward.

Regardless of how tiny the movement is, it’s encouraging if at least it is forward. If you think you’ve wandered in your career path, take heart! You are not alone.


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