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The Acapulco Cliff Divers are a perfect example of pre-planned and excellent decision making. They stand on the sea cliff, watching each wave ebb and flow in the cove below. If they dive too soon or too late, the water level will be shallow and lethal. They dive in anticipation of the wave’s arrival. Their leap must coincide with the ocean’s anticipated swell.

They cannot wait until the wave has arrived to jump because by the time they reach the water, the swell is gone. When they jump off the cliff the swell is low, but deep as they enter the water. Now that is perfect timing! The decision to jump is based on trust. Trust in their judgement and experience and trust in the repetitions of the ocean.

What if the owner of the cliff (your company) told the diver (you) to jump? You would most likely say, "Let me check the ocean first, then I‘ll jump." The cliff owner replies, "I really need you to jump now. Here’s your pink slip. Please jump now or I’ll be forced to push you off. And, I wish you the very best on your jump." Some jumps will be fatal and career ending; some will just break a few bones and will heal in a few months. If you do the math, you will conclude that you have a 50/50 chance of your dive ending successfully.

The message in this metaphor? If you wait for your company to decide your career timing, your immediate success rate will be about 50 percent at best. Only you should decide when it is the best time to jump. You must plan ahead for the best timing. It’s the difference between a proactive or reactive mindset.

If you work on the sea cliffs like most of us, here are a few tips to help with you career timing.

  1. Keep your eyes on the ocean.
    There will always be storms and high winds. Hurricanes will affect your career. The good news is that low tides are always followed by high tides. There will always be events and circumstances outside of your control, but being prepared to jump on your own schedule will lead to career success.
  2. Accept all weather conditions.
    You cannot control the weather. Accepting and understanding the constant changes within your company or industry will give you a sense of confidence. You’ll realize that your ultimate power is the ability to choose the timing for your career.
  3. Be prepared to jump.
    Always maintain a current resume. Networking is a daily activity. Sometimes, the decision to jump can come quickly with little time to prepare a quality resume. You must always strive to have the ability to choose career moves when the timing is in your favor.
[QUICK TIP] Be sure to continuously check the stability of the cliff. Cliffs can tumble, and everyone is unexpectedly tossed into the ocean.

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George Gurney has been a leader in the employment industry since 1976. He founded an executive search firm that conducts domestic and international assignments.  He has won numerous awards for recruiting excellence.  He has been a guest speaker at national conventions and seminars.