What do you do better than most people?
Think about it for a moment, before continuing.
One of my best abilities is that of data analysis, best in the way that I am not just good, I am probably better than you can imagine.
That probably sounds like boasting, but it isn’t. Let me fill you in with some background.
I have worked for many companies, and as a consequence have experienced many managers and people in business in general, as well as a whole lot of other people doing the different tasks that make up our working lives. If I was going to give one piece of advice to all of these it might be that life is not like Farmville – when one gets promoted one does not automatically power up on those skills one associates with that position. On the other hand, our ego may demand that we defend our position, that we have indeed powered up on those skills, especially if we have been in a position for some time.
I will be blunt, most people are fairly crap at analysing data in any way but in which they have been taught when working at the business level, but our ego may not allow us to accept this. However, I have lived in Poland for twenty years but I will not be writing any literature in Polish in the foreseeable future, and I can say this because I do not allow my ego to prop up my business persona. I only have one life, and I have both psoriasis and arthritis to contend with all the time, I do not need a set of fake ideals to make my life even more complicated.
So every day I watch managers deal ham-fistedly with data, and there is no resolution.
Skills have to be learned, and then practiced, intensely. Just as no one gets to speak a foreign language without specific kinds of consistent work, no one gets to speak data without a similar amount of perspiration.
Remember that I asked you to consider what you do best? And what does that blog title mean?
Right, if we allow our ego to defend our poor skills, then we are saying that those poor skills are as good as our other skills. Our good skills.
One of the hardest things to talk about with people is their good skills. They downplay them.
So: ( CrapSkill x 10 ) + ( GoodSkill / 10 ) = Mediocrity
Each and every one of us has a unique set of skills at which we naturally excel plus a set of skills at which we have worked hard to learn. These are our core skills, and these are the ones we need to be using to add quality to the processes in which we engage.What is more, just as we cannot imagine what someone thinks when they speak a really foreign language, or does some artistic work beyond our experience, then we cannot imagine what those people with other skills in our workplace see when they are applying their skills – and they cannot see what we see in our minds when we apply our own skills. We never really know how far our imagination falls short of understanding what they see.
My mind burns with a strange light when I let it go in its areas of experience, yet dies to a pale glimmer in other areas. Where does yours burn?
The classical vision is that we have all the required skills, and that if we have a superior position then we have all these skills at a similarly elevated level. This classical vision is only our internal vision – while what other people see in us is what we present, and if we follow the ‘mediocrity’ process then mediocrity is what others see. In a company with many people at a certain level following the ‘mediocrity’ process, then all the outsider to the company perceives is anonymity.
Think about this: of all the people you have seen or passed by today, how many of them do you remember? Those who you know plus some you see every day in your home or work space, plus a few more? How many of those will say anything but what you expect to hear?
Anonymity. It is all around us.
The purpose of a team is to create a group of people not with just different sets of knowledge but with different natural abilities that can cross the knowledge boundaries. The way forward to a better business team involves leaving the classical ideas behind that Qualification Z ensures that Person X is able to do Job Y, and that we should appear invincible to our team.
This has implications in our ability to choose further training, because if our ego or our lack of imagination oversells the skills we do not have, we are unlikely to choose appropriate training.
Fear, ego and mediocrity. The embodiment of anonymity.