This environment has led to the emergence
of a new worker-archetype in today’s American work force. These individuals represent a
cross-generational cohort of the population that
is best described as career activists. They have
made a conscious decision to express and experience their talent in the one-third of their life
they spend at work. They each see themselves as
a “person of talent” and they live up to that perspective in their careers by continuously developing and using their capacity for excellence in
their profession, craft, or trade.
Career activists are also uppity employees. They
refuse to be any employer’s property. In their
view, employers are simply the transient users of
their talent. And, that talent is only on loan to
them—and for only as long as it serves their own
best interests. In other words, the owners of talent
are those in whom it is endowed. Each individual
person is the rightful owner of his personal capacity for excellence. And it is that person to whom
a career activist listens. Career activists pay attention to themselves.
That personal commitment to excellence is
undeniably demanding. There is no question that
for many, and maybe even most people, behaving
as career activists will require that they be more
attentive to their work conditions, more candid in
assessing their own performances, and more proactive about shaping their own careers.
Career activists have three overarching goals
n The development of their talent
n The application of their talent at work
n The management of their talent throughout
Each of those three spheres of action—develop-
ment, application, and management—is as impor-
tant as the others, so all must be addressed and
accomplished if career activists are to achieve sus-
The Ethos of Career Activism
Career activists aren’t workaholics. They don’t
spend 18 hours a day or seven days a week on
the job. Rather, they enjoy their lives outside
the workplace as well as within it by being very
focused and disciplined in how they work.
Career activists are very hardworking
individuals, but what drives them is not
traditional employment rewards and
recognition. Instead, they are motivated
by their quest to do their best work.
Career activists are very hardworking individuals, but what drives them is not traditional employment rewards and recognition. Instead, they are
motivated by their quest to do their best work—
to express the fullest possible dimensions of their
talent, and to feel the sense of satisfaction and the
fulfillment that come from achieving that goal.
Every day, career activists push themselves to
contribute to their employer’s success by reaching for what they see as their own success. The
former provides a measure of protection in a challenging and potentially hostile economic environment. The latter positions career activists as the
pace setters in the emerging world of work of the
21st century. n
A former columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Peter
Weddle is the author or editor of more than two dozen
employment-related books, including The Career
Activist Republic, Work Strong: Your Personal
Career Fitness System, and The Success Matrix.
All are available at amazon.com.