Hi, this is a guest post from good friend and colleague Jeanette Sanderson. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
This title makes me uncomfortable. It challenges the way I think. It implies my current knowledge is absolute and complete. We all know this is not the case. What I am sure about is that I am a lifelong learner and my long held beliefs and ideas are being deconstructed and reconstructed on an almost daily basis. So here’s the new(er) title: What I know for sure (for now).
I thought I would take this opportunity to share some of the things that appear clearer and more defined to me, as I look in the rear vision mirror of my career.
Become conscious of your own thought process (or Metacognition)
Being conscious of how you process information and respond in times of crisis and stress, is a particularly valuable skill to have. By understanding our ‘auto pilot’, we better manage ourselves and deliver improved performance – both professionally and personally. Your ‘auto pilot’ is that little voice inside your head that delivers a running commentary on your life, every minute of every day. Take the time to get to know your auto pilot:
- What pushes your auto pilot’s buttons?
- What is your auto pilot’s initial response in times of conflict/stress/disappointment?
- What physiological signs do you receive that your auto pilot is on his/her way? (Heart racing, sweaty palms, thumping headache?)
It is important you recognise these signs, and then actively work to disengage your auto pilot, ensuring that your actual response is considered and professional. Acknowledging and understanding your auto pilot, is the first step to personal mastery. “Know thyself” – Plato
Clarify the why.
Understanding the ‘why’ of what you do every day may be the key to unlocking your potential. So many of us muddle through our careers, acting the ultimate opportunists by jumping at almost any role offered to us. This can be a risky approach to managing your career. A far better approach is to critically and regularly reflect on the following:
- Your passion – what do you get really excited about and enjoy contributing to? What do you value? What inspires you?
- Your skills – what are you naturally good at? What do others compliment you on?
- Your areas for improvement – understanding your current weaknesses and where to focus your energies ensure that you are focussed on improving every day.
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born…and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain
Always ask. If you don’t, the answer will always be no.
I always thought if I was good enough, people would notice. But the reality is, sometimes you do have to be your own cheer squad. Sometimes people are too busy to notice that incredible piece of work you’ve just finished. If you want to get on an exciting new project – ask. If you feel you deserve a pay rise – ask. If you are seeking more flexibility in your role – ask. If you feel you are ready for a promotion – ask. The worst case scenario is that the answer will be no, but then the answer will always be no if you don’t ask. Take the risk – you have nothing to lose.
The truth will set you free.
I have always believed that ‘honesty is the best policy’. Admitting to mistakes and working to remedy them early, ensures you take accountability and earns you the respect of your colleagues. This is a reputation builder. Trying to hide or deflect fault destroys trust, and can seriously impact your credibility. Sure, sometimes it hurts in the beginning – a bit like ripping off a band aid, but I have found in most cases, the healing happens much more quickly.
These are just some observations that have helped me along the way, and I have no doubt that in time, more will be revealed. After all, evolution ensures that that we either grow and change to suit our environment, or perish. I believe that lifelong learning is a proactive approach to evolution – at least that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
About the Author of this Guest Post
Jeanette Sanderson is a passionate and creative Learning & Organisational Development leader. With 20 years’ experience across a variety of industries, she specialises in leadership development, learning design, and learning strategy. She has consistently built and led successful teams which partner with clients ensuring learning solutions contribute directly to measurable improvements in business performance.
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Many thanks to James Westmore for his wonderful artwork