PLAN. COMMUNICATE. LEAD.
In Times Of Uncertainty
I recognize only one type of failure – a failure of never giving a try. If you decided to give some option a chance and it did not go well or you figured out that it was not the right direction – this is not a failure. This is called – experience. Your experience.
We may have advisors, friends, mentors or colleagues, whom we can ask for advice. Their recommendations will be valuable, but only to certain extent. Because each of us is unique. What works for one person, doesn’t necessarily work for another. And it’s OK.
Hence, the only way to find your way in life or career, is by trial and error, by correction and adjustment of the path. Which means, we need to keep trying and experimenting as many times as necessary. Until we finally figure it all out.
This is the principle I follow. This is my life compass: it is always better to try, than regret later of never giving it a chance.
I have just started reading a new book, written by Derek Sivers “ Anything you want” and I noticed that the author dedicated the entire book to Seth Godin.
It stole my heart, because Seth is my virtual mentor and he inspired me to do many wonderful things, in particular to write this blog and share my knowledge, thoughts and insights.
This made me think. Seth shares knowledge through his podcasts, blogging, books. Because of him sharing his knowledge, he has positively impacted so many people, including me. This – is his legacy. Not only he makes money with his business, but he brings value to all people around by influencing, impacting and encouraging.
What about us? What is our legacy? What is our impact? What value do we bring into the world?
Sharing Is Caring
There are 2 types of mindset.
One is to keep knowledge only to yourself, fearing that others can become better and outperform you, being afraid of competition and of being replaced. This one is a “consumer”.
Another type of mindset is sharing knowledge and helping others, because there is enough place for everyone and everything in the world. Every single professional is unique and competent, because they know that by sharing knowledge they validate it and build on top of this, they enhance it and grow with it. Let’s call this one a “producer”.
Who are we then: consumers or producers? What will be our legacy, after all?
Responsibility By Default
Are we assuming responsibility by default?
When you are assigned a role: team to manage, program or project to deliver, task to accomplish – take complete ownership of it. You own the success or failure and you will be held responsible for the final outcome. Your name will be hanging out there and speak for itself.
When you think about it, do you feel the change of perspective? A while ago, there was someone else who will come and help – your boss or senior manager. A while ago there was someone else whom you can go and talk to or shift the responsibility to. Stop thinking this way, or you will always be a follower, and not a leader.
We shall stop waiting until someone else will come and tell us: “Now, I am officially assigning you an owner here, manage it”. Instead, we shall assign ourself accountable for everything we do and what happens to us.
It is not an easy thing to do and I continuously keep reminding myself every day about it and keep improving. But this is the only right thing to do.
If you want to explore the topic further, I would like to recommend a book called “Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.
Project Management Feature
Wouldn’t the world be a better place if all people had a “build-in feature” called “project management?
Truth to be told, when you work for many years in project management, it becomes your second nature. You can not just plan and execute projects at work and be totally disorganized in personal life. Whatever you do professionally has its impact on your personal life.
You plan your weekends and holidays, you compare your personal budget actuals and forecast, you even read books and decompose them into manageable pieces to read in regular intervals 🙂 You have a plan “B” in place if a risk materializes and your flight is cancelled. You follow up on your appointments and inform in advance if something goes wrong. Not only you come on time to the meetings at work, but you are also punctual for personal meetings. And you get “just a little bit” surprised when others don’t plan, don’t act, don’t follow up or act in a chaotic manner.
Does this “feature” deprive us from our spontaneity? Or does it bring us to the new level of personal organization, professionalism and reliability?
Learn Something New Every Day
We live in a buzy world, where there is no break from the rat race. Time flies from Monday till Friday, evenings after work and weekends are filled with working overime, with families, working out in the gym, cooking dinners, cleaning, sleeping or watching Netflix. That is how it works for the majority of people.
There are, however, individuals (and let’s be honest, they are not in great supply these days), who still find some time to read an interesting book, watch an educational video, study for PMP exam for example 🙂 or do a course at Udemy or Skillshare. So, where do they find time for that?
If we all agree that we want to develop, then I dont have to give you a reason why. What I can give you are these 3 hints where to find time to learn something new every single day.
- First of all, in the morning. You have a choice – to sleep till you are almost late to work, or you can wake up just a little bit earlier, while everyone else is sleeping, and use this time to read.
- Secondly, while doing household work, running or driving – listen to an audiobook. I have listened to almost 9 books in the last 6 months while doing some work at home (cooking, cleaning) or driving.
- Thirdly, instead of scrolling Facebook or Instagram or while waiting for someone – open YouTube and watch some useful video, or read recent news related to your area of interest.
Do we really lack time to learn or do we lack a proper incentive?
Take The Harder Path
Choose the harder way. There, you will not meet many rivals.
“Why should I pick more difficult way if there is an easier and faster option?”- you would ask.
Because always using shortcuts will bring its bitter consequences in the long run. You can read a book just overnight, it will be easy and fast. But you will forget what you read in a couple of weeks. If you choose a bit harder option – let’s say you will read and make notes of each chapter, write an action plan based on what you read- this is a different story, because you made additional effort to memorize and process the information, you worked on the content and extracted value for yourself.
Choosing the harder way makes you excel in things you care about. It sets your priorities.
Feedback Has To Be Valuable
When you provide feedback to your colleagues – do you want to be polite or do you want to be objective?
In many international companies there is a whole bunch of processes dedicated to gathering and providing feedback. Somehow though, only few of their employees extract actual value from it.
The bitter truth is that a lot of people think they have to be very positive and mention only good things; they think if they provide positive feedback, they will also receive a good one in return. Many are also afraid to offend the person or simply prefer to withhold if they were to provide any negative feedback.
If we provide only positive feedback, without examples or suggestions what to enhance or improve, can you really call it “feedback”? If people know what they do well, but are kept in the dark about what they don’t do so well… can they really improve? What is then called continuous improvement?
True power belongs to those who put their ego aside and want to learn about what they could do better. The things on which you need to work – this is the most valuable information, because if you work on that – you will improve and become a much better professional.
Earn Their Trust
There can’t be enough good reasons why changing jobs and companies is good for your career and development. It brings you wider experience, broadens your outlook on work ethics and conditions, presents more career opportunities, expands your network and, of course, gives you better money.
But…. Each time you change your job, department or location – you have to build your “brand” again.
In previous company you were already known, you achieved certain results, built connections, knew the processes and structure. When you join the new company – nobody knows you and nobody cares to know, actually.
This is why you have to build this trust from scratch. You will need to invest a lot of effort from the very start, get noticed, show that you can deliver and that you are a professional.
Remember, at the very start you work hard on your reputation, then your reputation will work for you.
The Difference Between Theory and Practice Is In Practice
How do you perceive the team’s cross-functionality in a scrum team?
Let’s say you have 1 UI developer, 1 backend developer and 1 Tester – together they have all the skills they need to produce a product increment. But if you take away 1 component – you have a single point of failure.
Another example. Let’s say you have the same 2 developers and 1 tester – but developers are full stack – if one is absent, another can pick up and they all can do testing if tester is away.
See the difference?
In practice though, it is challenging to achieve a complete cross-functionality when team members have multiple skills at the same time. It depends on technology, on market conditions (if such specialists are easy to find), on individual team member aspirations and development plans.