Ecology is the study of the interaction between organisms and their environment, forming living systems that change over time. Careers are also interactive, living processes as humans develop and interact with their environment across a lifespan. Career Ecology may then be defined as the study of how individuals necessarily grow and maximize their potential, as they work through varied roles, in relationship with many variables in their environment, including the natural world and human organizations (family, education, workplace, community) as these are interactive and mutually influential living systems. This is well known as the combined forces of Nature & Nurture — which applies to both people and planet!
(See Fast Company Nature vs Nurture 2.0!)
Careers and our planetary ecology are changing in an interdependent way. This has always been true, but with a predicted 7 billion to inhabit our earth, turbulence in world cultures and economies, as well as changes in climate, it has all become more complex. Catastrophic events, such as the recent Super Storm Sandy, costs our communities, businesses and shared government agencies, which presents new challenges as we plan our futures. New disciplines of study are emerging to address problems; our next generation is inspired by new innovations in technology that are connecting the world as never before, and emerging economies are opening new doors. There is a growing realization that we are all connected in a “global economy.” But people are struggling on the questions of “jobs” as these are being redefined to address new challenges.
Meanwhile, on an individual level — a job is essential to survival, identity, and overall livelihood. In the U.S. culture, there is a strong thread of individualism and competition in the job market. Further it can be difficult to navigate a meaningful “career” in the midst of ambiguous changes, and competing priorities over the lifespan. But a job is not a “Life” and it is also essential to coordinate our varied relationships with family, community, and culture that nurtures and supports the potential of each individual and profoundly influences our health, identity and connectedness to community locally and globally as we are all quite interdependent in the long run. My individual future does not just depend upon me. Your individual future does not just depend upon you!
Looking forward, we are at a huge pivot point in our individual and collective path on a shared planet. Changes will occur and we will react. … But change can also occur proactively by smart design, applying what has been learned, or what we can learn … relationally.
What do you want to create, change, lead, or do in your lifetime? What legacy will you leave to the next generation? What are your individual talents, skills, abilities, passions, interests? Who are your potential partners? How can you invest your skills and build your network of relationships to make a difference — for you and for others? What are the best practices and principles of organizations and “organisms” that can nurture and facilitate next generation learning, leadership, workforce development, innovation and constructive change to achieve success and sustainability? What can we learn from nature, ecological science, as well as “business” as these intersect to create the context in which we find our way in this world?