Sometimes the last thing we think we have is control over our careers, especially when we´re doing more than one job (who isn´t?) and deadlines seem to loom with no end in sight. But maybe that´s not the case. Maybe we have more control than we think. Maybe we can actually influence where our careers are headed.
Exerting control can´t occur, however, unless we have the right tools. Of course we need proper equipment, like printers that work well and a steady supply of Post-Its. But we also need guidance. Hopefully, we get that part from our colleagues, friends, supervisors, and upper management. And if you´ve been following this blog, you also know that books can be tremendously helpful. And here´s the thing about books: you don´t have to read the entire text. You don´t even have to read a book in the conventional way. Sometimes I take a magazine (I haven´t figured out why I do this . . .) and flip through it-backwards. What am I trying to accomplish here? I think what I´m doing is looking for something that will pop out at me, some nugget of information that my subconscious has been pining for but hasn´t been able to articulate.
One book that could really come in useful is The Truth About Managing Your Career . . . And Nothing But the Truth by Karen Otazo. That´s a big promise, but let me tell you something: it´s not always easy to get the truth (or get to it) and we all know that just because it´s in a book doesn´t mean that it´s true. Spoken like a true cynic, but honestly, my job here is to bring you information that you can use, right?
I´m really interested in this title, mostly because I get the feeling that I´m going to discover some things that are going to catch me by surprise, but information that my subconscious needs to know. That´s my hunch anyway. Here´s a sobering chapter title from the section about working with bosses: "Kiss the Ring: Hierarchy Matters." We don´t always like to admit such things, but truly if you want to get ahead, sometimes you just have to play the game. It´s a little bit like grades in school. They don´t necessarily tell us who´s the smartest. They are good indicators of those who know how to play the game and of course those who are hard workers. A prospective employee probably won´t ask what you got in tenth grade biology, but that doesn´t mean that your performance in high school didn´t matter. It´s all about the means and the end. Sometimes you just gotta kiss the ring.
Here´s another one that´s related to a point I brought up in a presentation I gave this morning at a local college. It´s about time management. "Knowing How to Say No Is a Key Time-Management Tool" is a chapter ("Truth 27") within a section titled "The Truth About Managing Your Workload." Let´s face it: whether you work with a Palm or a Franklin Planner or the best darn wall calendar in the country-if you don´t value your time, no one else will. So before you get all chummy with the best time management system around, think first about your relationship with time. Is it something that just happens or are you meticulous about the way you spend it? Do you ever say "no"? The ability to say "no" is directly related to the way you think about your time.
As you help your people develop you´ll want to give them the best time management tools around. But first you need to assess the most important tool of all-their perspective, their understanding, and their relationship with time.
We´ll talk more about the truth and nothing but the truth next time.