We throw around our job title or professional degree like confetti at a New Year’s celebration. These labels are our standard responses to the question: “So, what do you do?” Which, in turn, is thrown out there like a jump ball at meetings and social gatherings.
First, does the person we are speaking to understand what our job title or professional degree “means”? Second, do they care or are they simply being socially correct? Third, do we really understand what our job title or professional degree “means?”
When we define ourselves by our job title or professional degree, we commoditize ourselves. And we make it easy for others to dismiss us, as well.
When we rely on job titles or degrees to define Who We Are and What We Do, the person we are speaking with can fill in the blanks. Usually with their own perceptions, experiences and opinions about people with the same job title or professional degree. Whom they have met along the way.
As a result of our complacency – and devotion to job titles and professional degrees – people define our job titles with their own biases towards, and perhaps complete ignorance about, that title.
Who hasn’t met a sleezy and cheesy sales person? Aren’t all sales people the “same”? How many functional roles exist within sales? And besides, does everyone in sales sell used cars (apologies to the folks in automotive sales 😉)?
And then, an engineer? Hey, engineers are defined by The Big Bang Theory® entertainment program, aren’t they? We must talk just like Sheldon and his buddies do. And besides, the last time I checked, there are over 87 species of engineers.
Software engineers? Are we kidding? Especially with DevOps and artificially intelligent (AI) interfaces? What type of mysterious undertakings are involved in fulfilling these professional pathways?
Quality professionals? Aren’t they just efficiency experts? Isn’t Quality about messing up and fixing what is messed up? (OK, ASQ compadres, bear with me here.)
Why leave defining Who We Are up to the chaos of how other people perceive these labels or job title?
Think about it. Consider that, as Professionals of Worth, we bring a lot more to our clients’ tables, in addition to (or in spite of) a job title and a professional degree. After all, those labels are just the starting point for us and everyone else with the same title or degree.
Then, what we do, how we interpret the role we play and the artistry and value we bring to employers, colleagues and clients either become magic. Or not. Our artistry and value do not even begin to be captured by a title or a degree. In fact, Our Value is captured in experiences. Customer experiences. Chew on that concept for a while…..
Ponder how you currently articulate the value you – and only you – deliver to your organization’s and your clients’ value streams. Then ask yourself whether you would like to learn how to have that conversation? The difference is in the outcome you create and your professional trajectory.
My Defining Voice keynote expands into workshops and coaching programs focused on professional innovation. Why remain confined to the boundaries of a label or professional degree?
To learn more, click here. We may not be able to define the meaning of life. However, isn’t it time to finally discuss where you really want to go?
Start moving one millimeter forward towards professional innovation, today.
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Babette Ten Haken’s One Millimeter Mindset™ keynotes, breakout sessions and workshops help individuals, teams, organizations and associations leverage productive and profitable collaboration to catalyze professional innovation, workforce engagement and customer retention. She serves organizations as an inspiring speaker, strategist, coach and storyteller. Her speaking programs combine her training as a STEM design thinker, Six Sigma Green Belt and Voice of the Customer practitioner with her background in new product development, startups, market research and sales. How’s that for walking the cross-functional collaboration walk? She is a member of SME, ASQ, SHRM and the National Speakers Association. Babette’s Playbook of collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.
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