I get quite a few telephone calls from executives who have just gotten word they have been terminated or will be sacked in an upcoming layoff.  I have been there so I understand the flood of emotions ranging from disbelief to the early stages of rampaging panic.  

I am now also getting a different kind of telephone call.  From executives who are not in a panic mode but who are no less determined to seek advice.  They see major changes occurring and they want to break free of the mold of job comfort they see as holding them back.  They know they need to grow to survive.

They understand that artificial intelligence is not tomorrow’s innovative promise but today’s job disruption reality.  They are witnessing how technology and machines are being used to do the work people used to do. They see how other sectors of the economy are changing and they do not want to find themselves unprepared for that change.  

The irony here is that what is driving many of these pro-active calls is that these executives understand they have become comfortable in their jobs. They do not want to fall prey to the rationalization that marketplace disruption will not adversely impact their careers.  The tension is their comfort versus growth in terms of expanding their knowledge, skills and how they manage their careers going forward.   

 These callers are looking for someone who will help them develop a career strategy with tactics to minimize their discomfort.  As one caller said, “I am successful, I have money in the bank.  My job is secure, but I believe things are going to change and I do not want to find myself without a seat at the table if, or more likely when, the music stops.  I need someone who will not let me fall into that trap.”

In other words, do not let me succumb to inaction because it is comfortable.

Ten years ago executives who talked about their Career Plan were thought to be arrogant, self-absorbed.   Successful leaders, after all, did not have a problem finding their next better job ti advance their careers, or to land a replacement job if they were fired or laid off.

However, technology and social media have dramatically changed today’s job search paradigm. More and more, executives are recalling that old birthday party game, Musical Chairs where kids scrambled for the ever-diminishing number of seats when the music suddenly stopped.  

They do not want to be a victim of being unprepared if the music suddenly stops.