Many of you know I’m an NCAA basketball fan. And after watching the games this weekend, some of my friends agonized to me about how practice team players are brought onto the court with 19 seconds left on the clock, even though their team is 18 points ahead. Why aren’t they given more playing time, with that kind of lead?
Because they are bench players, and not even the 6th man or woman.
So what role do you take in your company? Even if you are the sole proprietor. Do you prefer sitting on the bench, rather than pressing forward to win a contract? Knowing you are going to have to get right back out there again and repeat your efforts, over and over. There’s no time to get comfortable back on the bench.
For many technically-oriented professionals – in both engineering and business – the thought of being a field player is daunting.
The bench seems so comfortable, so secure. Yet after the meltdown of 2008, technical expertise and degrees aren’t insurance for job security. You have to develop what it takes to contribute to your company’s revenue stream.
Where do you think your salary comes from? You know as well as I do that bench players don’t get paid as much as field players. First string and fourth string are light years apart.
It’s about the value and relevance we contribute to the throughput and output of our associates that makes all the difference. And it’s about our desire to be valuable and relevant as well.
Being a bench player has many merits. You get to observe the process of how to get things accomplished. You get to become a student of the game. You get to observe group behavioral dynamics. You get to develop that 10,000 eagle’s eye view of how throughput and output contribute to generating revenue – or points on the board – for your company or your team. A lot of bench players who understand this aspect of their role become great coaches.
If you currently are that bench player, how are you utilizing the opportunities available to you for observing and learning?
You get to ask the coaches and owners questions about what you are observing, you know. And in establishing dialogue, you are moving yourself 1 millimeter outside of your current professional comfort level as well. In sharing their perspective with you, the coaches and owners begin to perceive you as an engaged bench player who is interested in all aspects of the business of making points in the paint and driving revenue.
How you use your current job to develop an enhanced, collaborative functional role for your team and company is up to you. Make the most of the opportunities that are available to you, instead of feeling boxed in. You just may end up becoming that 6th man or woman, for starters.