Power of Engagement
Engagement is important in many settings because people who are engaged behave differently. Managers are designing practices to engage employees and stimulate discretionary effort. Educators are creating innovative approaches to engage students and increase student success. Corporations are striving to engage new customers and increase brand loyalty. Communities and nations are seeking solutions that engage citizens, increase voter participation, and promote volunteerism. Are career development professionals sufficiently engaging our clients with career exploration in K12, post-secondary, agency and other settings? Do counselor education programs sufficiently engage students so they have a strong desire to deal with career related client concerns? Has our profession sufficiently engaged the public-at-large and promoted a clear awareness about what constitutes ‘career development’? Whether you believe the answer is Yes or No, keep reading for an exploration of engagement and the evolution of our profession.
Reframing Career To CAREER
Most people, including career theorists and practitioners, equate the word ‘career’ and ‘work’ with income. This view is narrow and dangerous because it does not acknowledge the important time and energy most people put into eight other major life roles such as being a parent, a child, a home manager, a spouse, friend or partner, or a student. For almost forty years, several of us have been promoting a broader expansion of the term career to include multiple life roles, only one of which involves income, called work. Yet the prevalent paradigm in K12, post-secondary and agency programs, nationally and worldwide, views and promotes career as what one does to earn income. Thus, “all things career” including career counseling, career development, career coaching, and most Internet and print articles, are often misinterpreted by our profession to our clients and the public at large as “what matters regarding one’s work choices through which income is earned”.
In 2011, at the Society for Vocational Psychology International Conference at Boston University, I presented an expansion of my initial paradigm of career as multiple life roles I had first created in 1976-77 in Hawaii when I coined the term career-life. In my paper, I described career as career-life (Colozzi, 2011), a powerful dynamic through which each life role allows the opportunity to give and/or receive care for self/others. Care involves some measure of sharing and/or receiving aspects of self-knowledge (i.e., talents and abilities, interests, and values). Individuals constantly search for ways to discover meaning and express themselves. The only way to do this is through life roles. Most persons, including middle school students and the homeless, are simultaneously playing between five and seven of nine career-life roles, and are often unaware of this. Being more aware of the life roles one is playing or can play, awakens deep-seeded values. This awakening powerfully promotes intentional engagement and discretionary effort, and this is a good thing across all life roles because our life roles affect others’ life roles.
Creating CARE + ER
Interactions within any life role are always accompanied by a potential energy release (ER) involving trillions of cells that can either occur or be blocked, and the ensuing psycho-physiological dynamics directly affect stress levels. An individual will experience a decrease or increase in stress, depending on the congruence or incongruence of oneself with any of nine career-life role environments. This results in the release of either positive or negative hormones that alter gene activity, including influencing health, overall wellness, or producing other changes in the human body, referred to as gene-expression. (Benson & Proctor, 2010).
Experiences of happiness, harmony, and self-actualization are by-products resulting from the actual release of energy. When an individual is able to express her/his abilities, interests, and values, during a caring experience across various life roles, a state of congruence occurs. When one’s natural or true self is prevented from being expressed, this blocked energy can result in anxiety, stress, lack of purpose and meaning, depression, hopelessness, even compromised immunocompetence, and can be described as a state of incongruence (Colozzi, 2003).
The Important Role of Values
Being in touch with one’s true self, one’s organismic valuing system (Rogers, 1964/1977), leads to self-actualization, thus an individual who is a ”richer, more complete, more fully developed person” (p. 263). Values clarification provides clients with useful insights for making wise and informed career-life-decisions. I created Depth-Oriented Values Clarification (DOVE) (Colozzi, 1978, 2003) as a counseling technique to facilitate clients’ discovery of calling(s) across career-life roles (Colozzi, 1984, 2009), including the work role for those choosing to manifest calling in work. All of this relates to the role of spirituality and spiritual wellness (meaning and purpose) across multiple career-life roles and the pursuit of happiness (Colozzi & Colozzi, 2000).
Benefits of CARE
It’s time to reframe the traditional outmoded view of career that narrowly focuses on paid employment as understood by most people worldwide. If more people viewed career as, broadly, a way to give and/or receive care for self/others, and specifically, as a measure of sharing and/or receiving aspects of self-knowledge (i.e., talents and abilities, interests, and values), this expanded paradigm could excite people and raise individual and group self-efficacy beliefs. This will affect a wide range of people including youth searching for direction, adults feeling disconnected and saddened by their present life situations and who desire a renewal of meaning and purpose across their life roles, including work, people dealing with physical and emotional challenges, and even the homeless. If more people realized their powerful potential to offer their special talents to their local communities, their nation, and our world, would that not ignite hope, especially among people in traditionally disenfranchised groups, e.g., the poor, women, the homeless, people of color, and the incarcerated? Would this not make a huge difference in their lives and also contribute positive sociological and economic ripples throughout their local communities and nations?
A Call For Action
A paradigm that focuses on giving and/or receiving care can easily be shared in K12 through adult settings and within multicultural contexts that seek to celebrate our diversity and honor our sacred sameness. We humans constantly search for ways to express ourselves because we intuitively know we have so much potential. We can discover meaning across numerous career-life roles including paid work, our numerous relationships, and even our leisure and volunteer activities. Please join this evolution of career to care by participating in discussions with colleagues and clients in whatever setting or country you are involved, including social media activities. Infuse this paradigm into career-life exploration activities with groups and individuals, and make presentations at conferences. Take time to start a dialogue around career as care.
People yearn for direction, meaning and purpose, and our profession is poised to make a major difference in people’s lives worldwide by simplifying this message to the masses. The first one hundred years of career development have focused on a traditional and limited view of career that needs to change. As humans, perhaps we all share a compelling imperative to express care and the magnificent energy potential we each have within. When this energy is blocked, it is dangerous to our humanity; when this energy is nourished and positively channeled, it becomes the evolutionary essence of our humanity.
Additional information about Reframing Career to CARE and a complete bibliography is available in the following book chapter:
Colozzi, E. A., & Byars-Winston, A. (in press). DOVE (Depth-oriented values extraction): Helping clients create career-life choices. In M. Pope, L. Y. Flores, & P. J. Rottinghaus (Eds.), The role of values in careers. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.
I look forward to continuing this dialogue with Lee Richmond in our Advanced Learning Institute in Hawaii at the ACA Annual Conference, March 2014 and the APCDA International Conference, in May 2014.
Edward Anthony Colozzi, Ed.D., is owner of Career Development and Counseling Services. He is a MA state licensed mental health counselor, a nationally certified counselor, a master career counselor, a MA State Certified Trainer, an NCDA Fellow, and is Acting President of the MA Career Development Association (MCDA). Learn more about Dr. Colozzi at www.creatingcareerswithconfidence.com
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Edward Colozzi at
Career Development and Counseling Services, 18 Mountain Road, Burlington, MA 01803