Kindling, by definition, is a substance that catalyzes fire. It’s difficult to start a fire without it. Not impossible, but much more difficult. It’s easily combustible and creates the circumstances that fosters the fire’s growth.
I was thinking about kindling today when journaling, and I believe that there’s such a thing as career kindling. And we all have it.
Most of us eventually learn a foundational set of abilities: we walk, we talk, we see, we move our arms, etc. From this foundation we then move into areas of increased sophistication: we job, we notice colors, we pour water into a pitcher, etc. And then the sophistication increases and increases and increases. Our careers are based upon the same principle: we start doing things and then we become better and better and better. You writing an email now is very different from when you first wrote an email years ago. You got better, but you couldn’t get better until you learned sentence structure or how to write emails in a more sophisticated way.
Those become successful in their careers notice the effect of career kindling and use what they know now as new kindling for their future work.
So let’s pretend that you’re lawyer, and you become really knowledgeable in the laws and culture of Middle Eastern countries. People call you for guidance and advice; you answer them. You say to yourself, “hey, I’m pretty knowledgeable in this. Maybe I could speak to groups about it. But I’m not a very strong public speaker.” So you use your Middle Eastern law and culture content knowledge as kindling to build your confidence to speak to others. And once you’ve mastered that, perhaps you want to try your hand at writing. Start the fire, write a book.
You don’t need to be a lawyer to look at your past experience as career kindling, and everyone has career kindling if they choose to honor their sophistication and natural gifts. So what’s yours? And what will you use it to leverage in the future?