Make Shakespeare Your Career Coach


He may have lived centuries ago, but William Shakespeare’s words are spot on for career development today.

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves”.

Many of us are waiting for success to fall from the sky and hit us over the head. Fate can only take over after we take action. We must stop the waiting and take charge. Worry not about what steps to take. It’s more important to do something – indeed anything, and adjust as needed – than to do nothing.

“Brevity is the soul of wit”.

If we can say little but reveal a lot, we are valued more than ever in the workplace. While others endlessly gossip, complain and talk to impress – we can stand out by saying our piece with few words and great impact. Let us choose our words carefully and allow silence to deepen them. Time is today’s valued commodity. Save as much as you can, for yourself, and those you serve.

“Better three hours too soon than a minute too late”.

The entire planet is running late. Opportunities are missed. Promises broken. It’s not hard to carve out a reputation for punctuality and thus, reliability. Move your watch ahead in order to get ahead.

“There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so”.

So many of us are unnecessarily hard on ourselves. We lose confidence fast. A text not returned? Must be our fault. Nobody has complimented us this week? We must be unworthy. Shakespeare knew that a thing can be good or bad depending on our thoughts. An unreturned text could be because a co-worker was celebrating a new job. Receiving no compliments is also receiving no criticism. We tend to see everything through a negative filter. But the real world isn’t like that.

“No legacy is so rich as honesty”.

The business world is full of people trying to impress, look important and connive their way to success. How many are working at honesty? Those who do are rare and therefore valued.

“A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool”.

Offices the world over are filled with fools claiming to know it all. Admitting we do not know something and taking the time to learn is of greater use to employers than saying we do know something when we really don’t. If we pretend we know it all, learning is suppressed, we become stagnate, and we make faulty decisions.

“I wasted time, and now doth time waste me”.

It was true in Shakespeare’s day and it’s true now. Wasting time will come back to haunt us – in lost dreams, lost income, lost opportunity. Approach your career and life with a sense of urgency.

“I say there is no darkness but ignorance”.

Learn everything you can about your chosen field. To Shakespeare, the worst thing that could happen is to stop growing. If our career is not growing, it is dying. Destroy ignorance at every chance you get.

Shakespeare knew something about career development. He was an actor, playwright, poet and – while not well known – he was also a businessman, part owner of a theater company.

This April, millions will mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

About the painting:

Known as the “Chandos” portrait because it was once owned by the Duke of Chandos, this famous painting of Shakespeare is thought to have been created between 1600 and 1610. It is not known who the painter was but it could have been a friend of Shakespeare’s or a well known painter of the day named John Taylor. We can assume the painting is a true likeness of Shakespeare based on praise from his contemporaries at the time. Notice the earring, common among poets of the day.

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