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Fundamental #12: Work on Yourself


The 30 Fundamentals that make up the “ConnectSMART Way” describe how we want to run our business – the way we treat our clients, the way we work with each other, and even the way we relate to our vendors and suppliers.  They’re who we are and they’re the foundation of our success.  They drive everything we do, every day. Each week we focus on a different fundamental and discuss in depth.

Fundamental #12: Work on Yourself

Be a lifetime learner. Challenge yourself to take risks and get uncomfortable. Be open to feed-back and allow yourself to be vulnerable. Growth only happens when we stretch.

One thing that has always intrigued me is how we measure intelligence and a person’s worth.  Even more interesting is how that value and intelligence is so situational.

I watched a show years ago on the BBC called “The Battle of the Brains”. In it they took a musical prodigy, a quantum physicist, an artist, a dramatist, an RAF fighter pilot, a chess grandmaster and a Wall Street trader and put them through a series of tests to see who was the most intelligent.  There was no clear cut winner, but interestingly enough in practical intelligence the dramatist with limited formal education edged out the rest in different tests.  She wouldn’t be able to fly a jet, calculate re-entry trajectories,  or beat a grandmaster at chess, and in fact her IQ was the lowest in the group, but she excelled in most of the tests.  The reason is that she was more open to ideas and able to look at problems in different ways then the rest of the people being tested.

There are thousands of pithy quotes with pretty pictures about how you are the greatest project you will ever work on. Albert Einstein said “The more I learn, the more I realize what I don’t know”. I think one of the greatest keys to this fundamental is the third sentence “Be open to feed-back and allow yourself to be vulnerable”. Another way to say it is to not be so arrogant that you think you are always right. We’ve heard the quote “the older I get, the less I know”.  Growth only happens when we stretch and when we get comfortable and stop growing we die. The same is true for our mental state.  When it is no longer challenged it starts to turn to mush!

DashboardsHow valuable are you? Not just to the company, or society, but to yourself and your loved ones? We have all seen the dystopian future portrayed on television or movies.  Take a few minutes and think about it.  What benefit do you bring to your ‘tribe’? Maybe figuring out a server randomly rebooting due to a bad RAM module is worthless, but how about the skill of troubleshooting? Are you just learning how to do your job better or making YOU better?  Maybe zombies aren’t part of the equation but you are having a picnic and forgot the corkscrew. Can you “hack the bottle”? Regardless of whether it is WTSHTF, the zombie apocalypse, the ‘day after’, ‘red dawn’, hurricane Jenny (sorry Jen, I had to throw that one in there), the crisis at work or home, or your daily life – never stop learning.  Just as important, don’t be a one dimensional learner. Excellence is important, but don’t just focus on what you already know.  Learn new things, get out of your comfort zone.

One of the ironies of schooling today is that it doesn’t focus on what is really important.  It isn’t facts and figures, but learning how to think.  Learning how to troubleshoot and solve problems.  Take what you know and apply it to different situations.  That is what learning is all about.  Application.  When was the last time you purposely made yourself uncomfortable? The difference between the follower and the leader (and the victim) is the holistic approach.  Do you want to be a survivor or a statistic? Even if we never face the ugly future of cinema and novels (although if you keep up with current events I wouldn’t count it out – except for the zombie bit), will you work on yourself? Not for a promotion, or a better paycheck, or for a change of career as a river rafting guide but to make you a better you?

I encourage us all to look for ways that we can work on ourselves.  You can’t fix anyone else, and you can’t change anyone else.  The only one you can change or fix is you. So don’t hide from situations that are out of your element. “Embrace the Suck”, don’t just figure out how to get by another day on the way to Friday, but how you are going to grow, change, and get stronger.

Best Regards


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