How to Survive Your Personal Fiscal Cliff

With all the furor about the looming federal "fiscal cliff," your personal fiscal cliff shouldn't be left to fate.

Economic uncertainty can translate to big anxiety when it comes to your job -- especially in the social sector where resources seem to be even more precious.

If you have a job, you probably want to keep it. Or, find a better one. If you don't, you want to get one.

Here are three kickass, never-fail, gotta-do-'em tips from's Pathfinders -- entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs who've had amazing social impact careers -- who I recently interviewed.

1. Develop Transferable Skills. Whether you are in a high or low visibility role in your non-profit or social enterprise, take every chance you get to learn new and different skills that can transfer to your next job -- or promotion! To name one universal skill, developing a basic knowledge of finance makes you an asset to virtually every functional department anywhere at any time. (For example, if the Radical Right Republican leadership could do math, maybe it would be President Romney today.)

And, as Pathfinder Jerry Hildebrand, CEO of the Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship, opines, "understand the difference between attributes and skills." Work on both.

2. Be Open to Learning From Everyone. Pathfinder Ashwini Narayanan, former CEO of MicroPlace, urges, "cultivate a willingness to learn." It is "the" essential career success piece. Showing up every morning at work thinking that you have all the answers will only frustrate and piss off the people around you -- the very people you need as mentors and future references.

3. Don't Be Afraid to Fail. Probably the toughest advice of all, but it's one that Pathfinder Saul Garlick, CEO of Think Impact, says is absolutely necessary to being successful in the social sector. Make failure your friend.

Innovators fail all the time -- until they don't. Seth Godin's recent blog on the desperate need for nonprofit innovation underscores the point. If you, or your organization, are afraid to fail, you won't find the innovative solutions that lie just beyond failure.

Let's be honest: tough economic times are the new normal. While much of your personal economy may feel out of your control, the choice to become an innovating, open, skilled employee is not.

Take control of your destiny and start recession-proofing your career right now.