Employ Insight

If the Pope can pivot, so can you

  • Written by EmployInsight
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  • On March 13, 2013, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (aka Pope Francis) was elected the 266th Pope and leader of the Roman Catholic Church. It was an exciting day around the world for Argentina, Catholicism and humanity in general. Everywhere you looked, there were stories about Pope Francis from his dedication to the poor to his views on religious and social issues.

    One thing that resonated with me was how the Pope had a master’s degree in chemistry and contemplated life as a chemist and teacher prior to entering the priesthood. Chemistry…sounds pretty different from Catholicism, doesn’t it? Apparently, Pope Francis felt a greater attraction to spirituality than ions and so the Pope, in his late 20s, decided like so many others in their careers, to pivot.

    These days, the term “pivot” is used frequently in the startup world when a company decides to redirect its business vision. In other words, the company decides to change its strategy in order to be profitable. Companies do it. People do it. Even, popes do it. At some point, we all pivot, whether in our personal or professional lives.

    It’s a good thing that Pope Francis embarked on his career change in 1960s Argentina and not in 2013 in front of a New York recruiter. I could only imagine the scene would play out as follows, “So, Mr. Bergoglio, I see that you have a master’s degree in chemistry and you want to lead a congregation in the Roman Catholic Church. I’m sorry but there appears to be a bit of a disconnect and while you seem like a nice guy, you’re really not a good fit for the position.”

    Transferable skills plus sincerity = New Career

    Anyone who has attempted a career transition has encountered some degree of skepticism from employers, yet if we’re really committed to making such a change, our advocacy will highlight both our transferable skills and our sincerity. When that happens, people are more likely to have faith in us.

    I’m sure Pope Francis was a pretty good chemistry teacher but at some point, he also had to convince someone that he’d be better at pouring holy water than pouring H2O into beakers. How could he do that, if he never led a congregation? Well, if you’re a good teacher, isn’t it also likely that you’d be a good religious leader? Don’t teaching and leading have some commonalities? If he was a great teacher and demonstrated a strong commitment to the Church, someone at some point had to take a leap of faith and give him a job.

    And there you have it. Pope Francis’ pivot resulted in a new job, which completely changed the course of his professional life. The hypothetical recruiter might not have seen it but someone in the Roman Catholic Church in Argentina did and years later the former chemistry teacher is the spiritual leader of Christians worldwide.

    Legally Free is a blogger for StrengthsInsight and an attorney at law in the midst of a career transition. For the next several weeks, he will share insights into his journey of ditching his former legal career and rediscovering his love for innovative business, new and interesting people and having fun.

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