Posts Tagged ‘groups’

Leader driven Harmony #8: Get a FIRE Going in Your Belly!

by Mack McKinney on January 21, 2011

Let’s pretend you have a major, life-threatening disease and are seeking treatment.  Do you want to be treated by a physician, physician’s assistant or nurse who just kinda likes their job?  Who just muddles through the day?  Who is about as good at the job as most other physicians?  OF COURSE NOT!

You want to be seen by someone who lives, eats and breathes medicine!  Someone who is a voracious reader of all things about the diseases he/she diagnoses and treats.  Someone who is sought out by other physicians for their in-depth understanding of people with your disease.  You want an expert who gets patients from other doctors who are unable to help them.  So how will you know when you have found such a specialist?  Well you should look for these unmistakable signs:

  • They have a visible and tangible passion for the subject (in this case, the disease).
  • They subscribe to every journal, newsletter, bulletin or other publication on the subject.
  • Their name is mentioned by several reputable sources, not just one.
  • They seem to have read every major book on the subject and may even have written (or be writing) one of their own.
  • They frequently talk (in person, on the phone, on email, etc.) with other specialists and recognized experts on the subject and can hold their own in discussions with anyone on the subject.

What does this have to do with you or with your business or your job?  Well, aren’t YOU providing some service or product to someone?  Don’t YOU help people solve problems?  Then this same level of engagement, commitment and proficiency is what other people expect of YOU!  Whether you are a plumber, IT specialist, car mechanic, piano tuner, grocery clerk, investment banker or military officer, people expect you to be the very best at your job!

How do you get to be the best?  How do you rise past the others in your field and become the “go-to” person?  You discriminate yourself, that’s how.  You set yourself apart from the herd by doing what they don’t (or won’t) do:

  1. Being Passionate: You decide that you are going to become passionate about your job and that, for at least awhile, you are going to let it dominate your life (this is why you want to choose careers that excite you – – –  it is hard to get passionate about a thing you are not fascinated by).
  2. Get Excited. Even if you have not been really excited about your job until now, decide to GET that way.  As Hollywood says, fake it until you make it.  (In a future post we’ll explain why this actually works, but take my word for it, it DOES!)
  3. Get fired up.  Get what the venture capitalists say they see in the people who come to them for investment money and walk away with a check for their new business enterprises – – – they have a “fire in the belly”.  The investors want to see someone so bursting with sincere enthusiasm for their idea that the subliminal message they transmit is “I believe in this idea and I am going to make this a success with or without your money!”  People can sense this passion and it is infectious.
  4. Infect others:  For a new venture, find kindred spirits who can get excited with you, and get them to help spread the word!
  5. Do your homework, everyday. In every field there are new advances, new technologies, new things to learn.  Get plugged in to those sources. Learn everything you can.
  6. Join professional organizations that let you commiserate with your fellow wizards.  From landscaping to electrical contracting, there are technical seminars and conferences that let you learn about the latest and greatest products and techniques.  Join and attend.

Some of the above advice applies to you if you are planning to stay in your existing career and just need to kick it up a notch.  But if you are pondering a major career change, you need to add a few actions to your to-do list:

  • Try on a career like you would a pair of shoes:  You slip shoes on and walk around in them awhile to see how they feel when you are walking, turning, kneeling, etc.  Do the same mentally with the new career you are considering.
  • Mentally place yourself in the job. Envision what you’ll be doing, your daily tasks and the people with whom you will interact.  See how it “feels”.
  • Read everything possible about the new career:  Pay scales, legislation that impacts it, what existing practitioners think of it and their forecasts for the future.
  • Talk to people actually doing that job right now. Ask if they would do it again and what they would do differently.

Most importantly, make up your mind to be a lifelong learner!  You cannot be the best at anything unless you commit to constantly learning, for the rest of your life, everything you can about that field of endeavor.  Every job can be stimulating if you examine each aspect to see how you can do the work better, faster, with fewer mistakes, and with better customer service.  And every job can be challenging if you decide that you are going to do that job better than anyone else on the planet earth!

Copyright: Solid Thinking Corporation

Check your ego at the door!

by guest on August 12, 2009

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check my ego at the doorWhen I look back over all the important lessons that I have learned during and related to my career, some of the most important came before my career even started.

First, some background:

I had the distinct advantage of being an engineering intern at a large aerospace firm while I was a sophomore in college. It allowed me a unique viewpoint in that I was surrounded by exciting technology and incredibly accomplished people (and I knew I couldn’t be laid off, which was a plus). I viewed this time as an opportunity to learn about careers in advance of starting my own. The world was bright and full of possibilities. I soaked up as much as I could about the profession, about corporate America, and about careers in general.

It was during this time that I experienced one of the most important lessons that I have ever learned – to check one’s ego at the door.

One afternoon I was asked to join an engineering review meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to review the progress and share ideas for improvement of the 8 major components that comprised the device we were making. Each component was represented by the lead engineer. In addition, there was a project manager and myself. The 10 of us entered a conference room at 2:00PM for a 2 hour meeting.

What ensued was a lesson that I still reference today.

The engineer of component #1 stood up, gave his progress report, and stated some of the challenges he was experiencing and how he planned to solve them. The other 7 engineering leads then suggested alternative solutions and constructive criticism (and the suggestions were quite good). Upon each suggestion, however, the lead engineer of component #1 immediately shook his head and responded that his solution was superior and that there was no need to consider alternatives. The other 7 engineers became agitated that their views were not being fully considered. But the engineer of component #1 concluded his presentation and sat down. Following his presentation, the lead engineer of component #2 stood up, gave his progress report, and stated the challenges that he was experiencing. Again, the other 7 engineering leads gave suggestions and alternative solutions, but they were similarly dismissed by the lead engineer of component #2. Again, the other 7 engineering leads became agitated that their solutions were not being considered. The lead engineers of remaining 6 components, in turn, gave their presentations, listened to the suggestions and criticisms, and dismissed them. And in each case, the 7 other engineers were agitated that their views were not being considered.

In all, the “2 hour” meeting took 6 hours to complete, primarily due to the length of time that each engineer took to refute the proposed suggestions. In each case, the lead engineer expended immense effort to prove that his ideas were superior to all the others. And in each case, the other 7 engineers expended immense effort to prove that their alternative solutions were worth merit. But in each case, the engineers were willing to provide criticism but not receive it… or one could also assess that each engineer was capable of talking, but none was capable of listening!

As an intern, I found myself amused and chuckling quietly to myself. If this had been a graded exercise for one of my engineering laboratory classes, we all would have failed because while we would have succeeded in communicating ideas, we would have failed in sharing and accepting ideas for improvement. What I didn’t immediately understand was that if I, a sophomore in college, could perceive the problem, why couldn’t the lead engineers? What was the specific problem that was preventing them from learning from one another?

What was the source of the problem?

And then it struck me!

It was not about the problem or the best solution anymore… it had become all about the egos! Each engineer had committed the same mistake of allowing their ego to interfere with the exploration of a better solution. Their egos were preventing the learning process from occurring.

It became clear to me, at that point, that the key to a successful meeting (and career) is checking your ego at the door so that your mind is open to other possibilities. Leave your ego outside the conference room (or office building).

I am so glad that I learned that lesson during that day. At each stage of my career following that meeting, I have allowed for the possibility that – “for every solution I have conceived, there may be a better one.”

The biggest takeaway for me:

I have recalled this lesson time and again and it has helped me to NOT avoid criticism. In fact, I have learned to seek criticism and feedback, whether it be good or bad, at all times. For if I reach the point where I think my solutions are the best to the exclusion of all other possibilities, then I have reached the point where I can no longer learn. And if I cannot learn, then I cannot progress as a person.

mike markey outside cropped Michael Markey has 16 years of engineering and software experience in various areas including aerospace, military, and commercial sectors. He currently leads a team of consultants that specialize in access control and commercialization of online content.