A TIME TO ACT

by Andrew Simon

A time to act, leadership

A significant change in context, like a change in government and subsequent Machinery of Government (MoG) changes taking place across the Australian Public Service at the moment can be an anxious and uncertain time for some. Yet, it can also be seen as a stimulating and exhilarating time, an opportunity, a fresh start.

Regardless of how one chooses to view such a change in context, the opportunity to re-assess one’s career in the midst of significant change should not be lost. Changing circumstances like MoG changes for example, may close some doors, but it also can and does open many other doors. But these can be missed if you are not paying attention. Paying attention is not as easy as it may seem. It does require active looking and the exercise of choice. The philosopher John Berger described attention as being an ‘intentional discriminator’.

Paying attention to your career, your aspirations, your growth, the impact you wish to have and challenging yourself to seek and take on new or different roles or indeed, to deepen your mastery in existing roles, is essential to keeping fresh, energised and growing. Looking for and taking opportunities that arise from significant change puts you in control.

Often this can be hard. Change can seem to have a mesmerising effect on us to the point of causing inertia. The temptation to wait and see is very great. Or sometimes, we may feel that we are not yet ready.

Yet to benefit from significant change, you must force yourself to initiate action even before you think you are ready, or the opportunity may pass you by. Thinking about and building confidence for the action you take is often best done with someone else; a loved one, a trusted peer, a mentor or a coach.

A professional coach, should always have your interests at heart, but he or she should also be able to help you test your assumptions, clarify your intentions and focus your action. It’s a kind of conversation that’s worth having, if the opportunities are worth taking.

In thinking about and participating in these career conversations, reflect on your achievements, the things you are most proud of, recall the people you can count on to help or connect you in some way, visualise the impact you want to have professionally and in other parts of your life and consider opportunities beyond the familiar.

Finally, act with commitment and energy and with a firm focus on moving forward even if your considered decision is to continue in your current role. After all, success, it has been said, is being able to define and pursue the questions worthy of interest and obsession and to maintain a lifelong interest in the pursuit.


Andrew is Chief Executive of Yellow Edge a company focused on inspiring individuals, teams and organisations to greater levels of performance.