Anthony Iannarino just wrote an insightful post: On Being Young and In Sales which got me thinking about how we grow as individuals within our areas of professional development. Although I went through plenty of times as a corporate newbie where I desperately wanted someone, anyone, to tell me exactly what to do and when to do it, that never really did happen.
As a young professional, I was told, and spent a lot of time trying, to sell like this or that person because they were the top sales dog. That wasn’t exactly what I needed to do. Or trying to sound like this or that person sounded in research meetings because they were the power person. Or playing it safe like this or that person, who always did the right thing, colored inside the lines, and was a company man who had a really large retirement package on the horizon. As though imitation was the roadmap to success.
Whose idea of success was that?
None of that copycat stuff even “fit” me. In fact, it grated against the who and why and where I was as a person – my value and even my ethic system – although I constantly was trying to shove that under the surface in order to fit in and run with the pack. To assimilate into “their” there.
It doesn’t work. It never works.
Not that I knew everything. Far from it. And I certainly was known for asking questions, lots of them, to try to understand the context for all these behavior patterns and processes and practices. Which kinda bugged the crap out of the folks firmly entrenched in their comfy status quo.
I made a pivotal decision to be happy being a sponge in my here instead of targeting” their” there. I am, and remain, a lifelong learner. I have found that my willingness to listen and be open to other folks’ perceptions creates a portal to communication.
That communication can be leveraged via collaboration. That collaboration creates synthesis, innovation, team work, solutions.
I found that management subsequently placed me in situations requiring facilitation of traditionally warring departmental factions. Because I stopped chasing “their” status quo there and started to show them what my out-of-the-box “here” could do for revenue generation.
I loved those cross-functional meetings. Do you have any idea how much you can learn from these incredible industry resources once you create a discussion that allows them to chew on the problem, differently, than they have been?
That facilitation capability is how I’ve always been hardwired. It’s just innate. Once I realized where my “here” was, I ceased my efforts to fit into their there. An early mentor of mine, engaged in venture capital, mergers, and acquisitions, made all the difference in the world to how I adapted what I knew and adopted corporate behavioral norms, and applied it to the matter of getting new products to market. He took my myopic and frustrated world view up to an altitude of about 10,000 feet.
I liked my here. It gave me perspective on their there.
There never was another meeting I walked into that I wasn’t taking that big picture perspective and applying it to the behavior, data, and anticipated outcomes I was responsible for directing, facilitating, guiding.
Once I gave myself permission to stop chasing their there, I got to my here. I’ve never looked back.
What is your here?