I've been working really hard recently to change a mental habit I have. It's something my clients have shown me (I'm learning as much from them as they are from me!), and once I identified the pattern with them, I immediately saw it in myself.
It goes like this:
- I find an area of interest that I want to get involved with
- I search out an organization that is already working in this area, and I scheme about how to get a job at their company, or to work with them.
Seems like a reasonable plan right?
What this has actually led to is very little movement into developing in many of these areas, because inevitably I'm faced with job requirements I don't meet, competition with other candidates that I can't match, etc.
I'm finally getting tired of this cycle, and after some thinking here is what I realized:
I was waiting for someone to give me permission to participate.
The implicit logic I was operating under was this:
- Areas of interest exist because there are people already operating in them (i.e. I've heard of a career because someone else already has it, I've heard about a concept because some company has created it, etc.)
- In order to participate in those areas, I need to join with someone who is already there.
I'm giving someone else the power to determine an outcome in my life. The framework is that if I can't find someone who is willing to give me a chance, or hire me on, then I can't participate at all.
How has this played out in the lives of my clients? It's subtle, but I'll listen for it. We'll identify some interest that a client might have, perhaps a different topic than what they're working in, or in an environment that's different then theirs, and the question inevitably gets asked:
How do I get a job doing that?
This is interesting for a few reasons. The first is the word "get", which implies that getting involved is something that is "given" by someone, and received by my clients. The second is that there is an implicit one-to-one correlation between involvement and employment. The thinking goes that if i'm interested in something, how can I make that my profession so that the two are one?
In the next blog post I'll talk about a better strategy, one that I've begun to use in my own life to great effect, that has moved me away from asking the question:
Who can give me what I want?
I'll give you a better question to ask yourself when you find an area of interest or direction that you want to move into, that will position the power in your hands, rather than the hands of others.