The best career advice I have for anyone, regardless of where they are in their careers is this:
DO WHAT YOU ARE AND BECOME AN EXPERT AT WORKING WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT LIKE YOU.
That's it. Nothing more. Anything else is gravy from where I stand. For the sake of clarity, let's take that apart and put it back together again.
DO WHAT YOU ARE.
Doing what you are means being the best you that you can be. It means being who you really are, not the you that someone else wants you to be. Each of us is a bag of saltwater with a pinch of magic. We are messy complicated masterpieces of needs, interests, and talents.
I need to hear every once in a while that the work I'm doing is of value. Yes, folks, I need to hear it. It can be true day after day, week after week and I can know it, but I still need to hear it from my clients, colleagues, family and friends. Criticism is particularly hard to take if I think it but haven't heard it in a while.
Presuming that the above stated need is real, it would be silly for me to pretend it doesn't exist, right? Better to accept that is me and get on with it. The best me will find ways to get what I need.
The same is true with interests. I love music. Does that mean I should be a musician? Not necessarily. If, however, the interest is genuine the best me will have music in my life.
Talents can be undeveloped or underdeveloped, but they are still talents. If I know what I can do, then it follows that the best me will develop and use my talents.
TO FIND YOURSELF, THINK FOR YOURSELF. ~SOCRATES
Doing what you are is the easiest thing in the world. Figuring out what you need, what interests you and what your talents are might be harder, but they among the most worthy of pursuits. Here are a couple of clues:
- You can do a lot more than you probably think you can.
- Behold the power of the self-fulfilling prophecy.
BECOME AN EXPERT IN WORKING WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT LIKE YOU.
This is a blog about team performance. Did you expect different advice?
In many discussions about team dynamics and team performance, I've declared that there are no people like ourselves. While I stand by that, it is also true that if we tested millions of people around the world over a period of many years we would probably find meaningful patterns, logical groupings, similarities and differences.
Such an assessment, if statistically and psychologically sound, would be an amazing tool to help individuals understand themselves and those they work with. It would be particularly useful to see how different people deal with things like control, challenge, structure, and change, for example.
As it turns out, The Birkman Method® has been used with over 3 million people over the past 60 years. It provides a way to identify, objectify, discuss and do something about the similarities and differences that matter between people, including needs, interests and how they present themselves in daily interactions.
Does that mean everyone needs to take a personality assessment and share their results with you for my advice to work?
What do you think?
Image: courtesy of Birkman International