Career Advice from Rolling Power Outages in Texas

It’s no secret that over the last week Texas has experienced an historic winter storm impacting all 254 counties. The resulting complications to the power grid and water systems have pretty much paralyzed the state.

This short video from The Weather Channel explains what happened and why Texas was so unprepared to deal with the freezing temperatures. Many of us experienced rolling power outages where power would be on for a period of time (completely unpredictable), then go out without warning for a period of time (also unpredictable).

As I lived through rolling outages for 3.5 days, here are my take-aways and how they apply to your career.

Make the most of the down time

When the power goes out, you quickly learn how to prioritize activities. Without power, prepare for when it comes back up again. For example, preparing food for cooking, or writing emails to send once WiFi reconnected.

In your career, when you experience a down time, do the same. Prioritize activities to prepare for when your career cycles up again. This could look like:

  • Offering to take on additional responsibilities (ex: serving on a task force or cross-functional committee)
  • Volunteering with a non-profit who can benefit from your professional skills
  • Networking to get to know different people outside your current circle

Hit the ground running

When the power is on, take advantage of it. Charge phones, computers and Air Pods. Cook dinner. For example, if I wanted to go anywhere, I had to do it when I could get my car out of the garage!

When you are at a point in your career when you’re hitting on all cylinders, maximize it:

  • Partner with a mentor to coach you along the way; learn vicariously
  • Talk to others in your industry / at similar points in their careers to compare experiences
  • Leverage professional development opportunities – take that training and go for that promotion

Use your resources

People help each other in times of need. My neighbor called me to find out if I had potatoes she needed. I borrowed an extra tall ladder from her. My friends traded an onion for a couple of eggs when no one could get to the grocery store.

Know what resources your company offers. Are you taking full advantage of them? Examples might include:

  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Mentoring programs
  • Networking or affinity groups
  • Online book summaries like GetAbstract
  • Online training like Coursera

If even one person’s career can be advanced as a result of this winter storm, then something positive can potentially come out of it.

Betsy Winkler is a partner at PeopleResults. She can be reached on Twitter @betsywinkler1.