Those attributes are What We Do. At least for the time being. Until our next career move. Those descriptors do not define Who We Are.
When I ask people about their professional defining moments, they tell me about when they decided upon their career path. Or that big contract they closed or their latest patent. Perhaps they tell me about when they were promoted.
That response is not the answer to the question I am asking.
Our defining moments are rooted in personal and professional responses and engagement with others.
Each one of us has some core defining moment which we have yet to uncover. Often, we automatically put into play qualities, ethics, values and responses, don’t we? Just where are these actions, thoughts and deeds coming from? What is their root cause?
When our professional defining moments are in play, we do not have time to stage how we will look, rehearse what we should say, select what we must wear and decide where we will be. Or cope with whether we are having a good hair day or not.
In addition, these professional defining moments first occur early on in our careers. Often when we are professionally naïve and, in terms of experience, dumber than rocks. Yes, our professional defining moments go back “that far.”
Yet when we think about our history and chronology, these elusive professional defining moments are there.
These vignettes exemplify how and why we do “what we do.” So naturally. Because our responses are hardwired, literally, into our DNA.
Consequently, we tend to dismiss the importance of our professional defining moments.
First, because they seem so natural to us (and they are). Then, because we assume everyone else “knows” how to do what we do. Also, because our actions are so simple rather than grandiose.
Yet our simple actions, observations and analyses always seem to have not only a big impact. Also, there is that ripple effect, isn’t there?
Consequently, we downplay how remarkable we are.
Because we believe everyone else surely must think the same way we think. We cannot believe that we are the only person who is uniquely capable of handling situations as diplomatically, respectfully, collaboratively and eloquently as we do.
So we continuously overlook how our professional defining moments catalyze our professional development and success. These attributes are disruptive. They make us feel uncomfortable. Yet often we refuse to follow this lead.
Then, there is another reason why we hesitate to embrace how our professional defining moments disrupt us. Because along the way, What Defines Us disrupts our colleagues, too. Who We Are as Professionals of Worth makes our colleagues extremely uncomfortable.
Have you detected how certain colleagues become resentful because they cannot do what we do, so effortlessly? While they emulate us, specific co-workers cannot sustain our defining behaviors because these traits are not hardwired into their own personal and professional DNA.
At least not yet.
Finally, what we do so naturally frustrates various team members. We unconsciously, and certainly unintentionally, make them feel less than, often stupid.
Our light shines while they feel theirs is diminished. Our thoughts seem so much bigger than theirs. Why is that?
So we short sell ourselves. We continuously compromise. We downshift so we can “fit in,” run with the pack and, hopefully, be accepted. Except that eventually, our core behaviors and professional defining moments shine through once again. And the cycle starts over.
Have you taken the time to thoroughly understand your defining moments and how they play out professionally?
Perhaps you are a disgruntled team or association member who often finds yourself resentful of the success of specific co-workers. Alternatively, are you a frustrated professional who feels under-appreciated, in spite of the support of clients and like-minded colleagues?
Is it time for you to make the decision you have been avoiding? Shall we explore the value of your professional defining moments? And how they incorporate into professional development and success?
You either can continue to read blogs and books and hope their contents seep into you through osmosis. Or you can determine how your professional defining moments are your greatest personal and professional assets.
The choice is yours. And you’ve come to the right place to make your decision.
Babette Ten Haken is a facilitator, catalyst, storyteller and influencer. Her domain space traverses the interface between business, technology and engineering: the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). She writes, speaks, coaches and consults about how cross-functional collaboration revolutionizes the value chain for customer loyalty, success and retention. Find out more about her One Millimeter Mindset programs and get started working with her today.