Changing who we are and what we do can be a challenge. We all realise that to progress, improve and develop, change and evolution are needed. Yet, sometimes, it is just easier to keep doing what we have always been doing. Staying inside in the warm, on a cold day, when you should be taking out the rubbish, is a basic example. The inertia and comfort of our current activity is often what causes us to stay.
In one assignment I led, a senior manager was coming from interstate and thought he was invincible. His achievements and significant industry milestones were outstanding. He thought people would be beating a track to his door. He had to realise that Queensland companies didn’t share his view of himself and the key market drivers for his industry were different here. In discussing his situation with him during an interview, and sharing with him my views on the way Queensland companies might be seeing him, he realised he had to change. Unlike staying in that warm house, he began approaching the market and his interaction with decision makers in a very different way. Rather than telling them about all of his achievements, he approached them by asking how they did business, and what their key drivers were. This was only a small difference but had a huge impact on the level of engagement he gained with potential employers.
Sometimes we’re just resistant to change or not up for the challenge. Sometimes, we may not realise the benefits of changing – aka the blindspot. Either way, the path we get set in may need a jolt to make us realise we are ‘set’ in our ways.
A few things may happen to help bring needed self-realisation into focus:
• If you are not achieving an outcome you have been seeking, take time to reflect on it, try to understand why and see if you can gain new perspective that way
• As Jim Collins says, make sure you have good counsel around you as those near you will give you an authentic perspective from the outside looking in
• I’ve led thousands of interviews and, as in the example above, an interview can be a great opportunity to ‘check’ whether your current trajectory is ideal from the perspective of someone who isn’t necessarily in your network
If you find yourself bogged down and not achieving what you thought you should be, the key message is to take a look at your trajectory from another perspective. This includes understanding how those you need to support your endeavours may perceive you, and then considering how you can better engage them.
As you gain new insight, heed the advice and signals you may be getting. The next time you have an opportunity to be interviewed, use it as another avenue to assess what you are doing against what you need to be doing. Ask for feedback and whether the interviewer thinks, compared to others competing for a role, you are doing the right things to support your trajectory. And when you ask, be prepared to listen and weigh up the answer.