Let's put it another way. Imagine you are taking your first golf lesson. After the club pro shows you how to stand, hold a driver, and swing, you walk up to the ball, hit it, and it goes one hundred yards. You continue the lesson, and by the end of sixty minutes you are hitting the ball two hundred yards fairly consistently. Do you go home and tell friends you are a golfer? Probably not. This example may sound silly, but in the work environment, employees will often say they know how to do something after having one or two experiences. When I interview candidates, I will say, "I see on your resume you are an expert in project management [or fill in the blank], so how many projects have you led?" And the response I get back is that they've led one or two projects. Development requires a number of diverse experiences to make strong connections between our behavior and results. If we do something once and have a positive result, we may think we know why it worked, but we don't. Statisticians call this "correlation but not causation." Diversity of experience is important. To understand why, let's go back to the golf lesson. Can you hit the ball two hundred yards with different clubs? When it is windy? How about the final day of a tournament when spectators are watching? It usually takes a number of experiences, in situations with varying conditions, to have effective development. In this book I will share how to mine your experiences to see patterns of success and how to communicate those patterns to others so you can control your future career opportunities.
The second component of development is time. Intuitively we get that it takes time to develop even if we don't understand why. Imagine that two kids who have never run in their life spend an equal amount of time preparing for a 5K road race. The first child runs for two hours a day before the race. The second child, starting six days before the race, runs for twenty minutes a day. Who do you think will perform better on race day? Most people, and research, will say the second child. Time matters. In development, time allows for reflection, context, and awareness so that you can uncover insights—to discover what actions worked and why. Time helps transform the experience into development. It also takes time to see how your actions fit into a broader narrative and place events into perspective or context. In the golf example, most students would prefer to have ten one-hour lessons to prepare for a tournament than one ten-hour lesson. Time helps the learner understand the degree to which individual factors played a bigger role in performance—the weather, club selection, arc of swing, mental or physical fatigue.
Armed with this information, the golfer now has situational awareness and can focus their behavior on the next lesson or practice to achieve better results. Time is needed to evolve our personal mindset to recognize and react to various situations. Coupled with experience, time helps us get into the right mindset to use the most effective approach to a task.
The third component of development is mastery. Mastery is the ability to perform consistently at a high level over an extended period of time. It is the evidence that your development efforts have been successful. In a variety of situations, under different levels of intensity and settings, over a number of years, you can deliver positive results.
While it is nice to have an overview of why experience, time, and mastery lead to development, it is conceptual. This understanding does not directly give you the job, role, or situation you want or need to develop. To accomplish that, we need to use the exercises and tools—the first of which is the Job Exploration Summary.
In my thirty-plus years in business, I would say the single biggest obstacle to having a rewarding career is not knowing what you want, or being unable to effectively communicate what you want. A small percentage of people have always known what they have wanted to do when they grow up. Often, they are doctors, lawyers, athletes (the hard-working ones with real talent), and performing artists. But if you're like most of us, you have no clue. Maybe you started out wanting to be a fireman or nurse, graduated to superhero like Batman or Wonder Woman, and then finally focused on whatever vision your parents, teachers, or mentors saw in you.
I say this because it is okay not to know what you want (on the inside), but few people can help you unless you give them a clue. They are not mind readers, will get frustrated trying to guide you through your thought process, and will quickly lose interest. When working with clients, I want to know the answers to two critical questions:
1. What motivates you and makes you happy?
2. What are you interested in and willing to explore?
These are softer questions that don't connote a lifelong commitment. It helps people understand that there is an emotional and a functional side to any job. Achieving high levels of job satisfaction means addressing both questions, but I start with their motivations.
***** TABLE OF CONTENTS *****
INTRODUCTION: Why I Wrote This Book
PART I: THE 7 TOOLS
1. Job Exploration Summary: Sharpen Your Own Perspective
2. Constructive Questions: Design Your Bridge
3. Mapping Your Experience: Build Your Bridge
4. The Networking Quadrant: Forge Strong Connections
5. Leadership Preferences Survey: Identify Your Unique Style
6. Spheres of Influence: Cultivate Your Image
7. Development Plan: Create Your Success Blueprint
PART II: SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES
8. Making Transitions: Moving from One Industry to Another
9. Breaking Barriers: What Works for Women and People of Color