Simple career related illustrations show up in all kinds of places. It happened to me once again just the other day.
We live in a small rural town of 1500 people about 45 minutes outside of Canada's capital, Ottawa. Several years ago, the powers-that-be really tried to make this slumbering community into something more. They created and zoned a street called Industrial Drive with the intention of pulling in some manufacturing. Believe it or not, it is actually the street we live on now. No industries showed up. But, by default, a few small businesses moved in. The rest became residential. The street name didn’t draw in what was wanted. It just got more of what the town already had...residences. To add to the oddness of our street’s name, our backyard is a farmer's field. That happens on the edge of rural towns. Annually that field's crops rotate between corn and beans… apparently a soil health issue. Corn and beans; it fits in with today's theme.
When you drive the entire area, other that pastures, there is nothing but fields of either corn or beans. When on the road, I am fully aware that these cash crops are there, but I never really pay any attention to them. There is no need too, except in one specific circumstance.
Something Grabbed my Attention
Every year in each field, some of the seeds from the former and different crop are left in the ground. Obviously, they do what seeds do…grow. Well, I really don't know if that's the case with beans growing in a cornfield. A crop of corn would definitely smother the much smaller beans plants. But I do know that when I often drive by bean fields, quite obviously a seed of corn has matured. The cover image of this post shows you the result. A large high single corn plant growing in the midst thousands of bean plants. You can't help but notice. The towering stalk of corn, though out of place is literally…outstanding. It stands out from everything else. As a result, it appears quiet, all by itself and most of all, it gets noticed! After all, am I not talking to you about it.
The Downside of Being Outstanding
However, even the fact that the majestic stock of corn draws positive attention, it comes with a downside, a negative slant. Corn should not be growing in the middle of a bean field. Corn really doesn't serve any practical purpose there. It is totally out of place. But that is where the parallel ends when it comes to the World of Work. As it relates to a person's career, we have to pull back the curtain and understand what these opposing concepts mean, what it tells us about ourselves and what we can do about it.
I've placed the negative and positive sides of these two concepts on the simple matrix below. Look it over then we will look a little deeper at each quadrant.
Let's look at each of the four quadrants.
The Place To BE
Yes, being Outstanding in your career but Not Out Of Place is Career Heaven and only about 1 in 10 are there. You can make a totally logical argument that not everyone can be there. My counter argument would be simple. I am not talking about everybody.
Right HERE, Right NOW, I am talking about YOU
If I don't challenge you, you will not pursue.
If you do not pursue, you will not attain,
If you do not attain, then you...have to tell me...what your options are.
Where will you be in 1 year...5 years...10 years...or more? Well, I can narrow down your answer now. Unless you do something, that is "Take Action" soon, you will be in one of the other three boxes.
Probably nobody reading this blog is in this first quadrant. They have no need to be learning from an article like this. They have already attained it. However, this also means that you are probably in one of the other three. That is why your are reading it!
Answer This Question
If you are totally comfortable where you work, but can honestly say that your work scenario is less than outstanding, then you have a question to ask; a decision to make. All you need is the motivation and stamina to see the journey towards excellence, through; because being outstanding demands excellence.
The question as stated in the matrix is, "What do I need to do to excel in my comfort zone?" Let me suggest a few things. But, you can add personal thoughts and conclusions regarding your own awareness-es that you may need more of?
- Self esteem
It may be one, it may be more than one. But you need to take the time to
Figure it out
Identify your issue
Craft a plan
Put it on a timeline and go after it.
You will in time excel and when you do, Outstanding is the natural outflow.
The Ball Is In Your Court
Ask Why & What
It has to be a real emotional tug of war to know that you are 'outstanding' in what you do, but for some reason are uncomfortable in your work environment. I can see this being an issue in the following scenarios...
- Your leadership has proved to be outstanding with the people you worked with, but working in your field is falling short
- You are outstanding in your field of work, but the people and team you work with falls short
- You were outstanding in fixing the problem you were hired to fix. But now that it is fixed, maintaining it has lost its appeal
- You were outstanding in both your field and team leadership but, in terms of upward movement or getting more responsibility, your company has nothing to offer
These are basic, big picture examples. I am sure that your current line of work can present its own case studies. But it up to YOU to get to the bottom of your level of discomfort. The only way you can do that is
identify 'The Why; then once identified
Follow it up with 'The What'.
Once those to things are done you can create an action plan.
If you can't figure it out, get help from a Career Consultant
This is Serious
If you are in this quadrant, you have so many questions you need to answers and most of them are specifically focused on YOU! You have walk up to a mirror, look yourself in the eye and ask...
- What on earth am I doing?
- What is keeping me from taking the necessary actions to move me to an area of comfort in my World of Work?
- Do I really WANT to work in a venue where I can excel and do my very best to be outstanding?
- Am I seriously willing to pay the price of what I must do to get me there?
I am sure that there are more questions that could be asked but these are a great place to start. Respond to the blue statement below with a TRUE or FALSE and it will tell you if you have a next step or not.
I am sick and tired of being stuck in my World of Work and I want to do something about it
If you said 'True' then you are ready to take life changing action.
So What's the Career Connection
The percentage of people who have career dissatisfaction is extremely high (See the numbers have way down my Home Page). One of the many reasons why people aren’t happy at work is being caught in the world of ‘mundane’. When you are there, you are not really noticed. When driving by the ten’s of thousands of acres of corn and bean fields in our area, I don’t specifically focus on them. But show me a field of low growing beans spattered throughout with these high out of place stalks of corn, I pull over, take a picture of it and write an article about what it says to me...and subsequently to you. Why? Because it represents something that screams out from a world where, day in and day out, everything looks the same, nothing looks different, and nobody is paying attention.
Here’s the deal
Living in the mundane has so many implications in terms of Your World of Work. Here are some of them:
- You feel insignificant in terms of your input
- You long to just be recognized for something you accomplished
- Your only joy is your paycheck
- You have settled into a complacent career state
- There is little or no motivation to press on
My word of encouragement to you comes from a friend of mine from Argentina. In his strong Spanish accent he would shout out, “Never Gi-bup”! So like John (but in my English accent) I repeat, “Never Give up”! “Press on”, but not by doing the same old, same old. You have to get out of that complacent mindset, pick yourself up by the bootstraps and learn...
- What makes you tick
- Where you excel
- What abilities and gifts you have that you absolutely love to use
These are the things that you can do that few others around you can and that companies can use; those things that make you want to jump out of bed on workday mornings and say, "I love my job!'
Will YOU Take Career Action
These, along with a more positive outlook on life will cause you to become something that you never believed you could be. You, like that single outstanding stock of corn in a bean field, will cause others to take notice and relieve you of your sense of insignificance and career dissatisfaction.
Finally, I encourage you to make your decision to move forward and to Never Gi-bup!
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