Ever have your boss give you an assignment, one that is riddled with implications of potentially amazing things to come for your professional career given the outcome of the assignment, and then the first details you receive are acronyms you’ve never heard of?
Nod and smile with confidence, oh – remember to google ‘O.I…f?’ wait. . . operaaaateeen income? Sounds right.
I’m the lucky man married to the one you’re all here to see, she’s the one coloring out loud – and I’m a late 20’s early 30’s first time father and ecstatic husband with no college degree and working my way through the corporate ranks. And I love it. Given my lack of university level education I’ve had to prove every statement or challenge I make in the professional field – and I’d like to be able to detail the survival techniques I’ve developed or confiscated from my colleagues.
The right tools are not always absolutely necessary to execute the task. But some items may be useful in your career development if you acquire them yourself, familiarize yourself, and utilize them as often as possible. Here we detail a few of the most applicable items that will open new opportunities and won’t require a second mortgage.
Enjoy this free Lean Tool SIPOC template to help you champion an improvement from start to finish.
If you haven’t experimented with coding of any kind, go ahead and test the waters. I can’t begin to illustrate the plethora of times that my amateur hobbyist level interest in coding has resulted in setting me ahead the team. Competitive nature aside, what’s good for me is good for the team as well – don’t shy away or assume it is daunting in any way. Oh, and no classes necessary – if you can read, every language developed is laid out clearly in developer docs by the host teams. You won’t be building extravagant applications – but you’ll be surprised how much automation or new levels of data interpretation will be possible if you utilize programming languages. We’ll touch on this more in a dedicated article.
The quickest way to being late on that assignment you’re spinning your wheels on is using 20 tools when one will do. Sometimes, when your direct asks for a report on his desk, that is what they expect. And sometimes, we might be compelled to present that report on a touchscreen tablet that we built from scratch out of fine gems and unicorn tears while performing a sonata by Chopin. Prioritize the effort, recognize the deliverables influence, and you won’t be disappointed when the information from the report was in their inbox already and you won’t disappoint them when you request a week extension to print an excel sheet.
If you can’t manage to schedule 30 minutes 3 times a week of planned exertion, then your time management is of some concern. . . I would start there. I’m no saint at this either. In fact, after I got a department head position I consumed my time around that and daily activities. I put on an ungodly amount of weight, my BP sky rocketed, I was lethargic, and just down right foggy mentally. Taking care of your health seems like a no brainer but we’ll find any reason to avoid it – truth is, from a competitive standpoint, while you are at this mental disadvantage and lethargic from overall poor personal fitness (including sleeping), someone is reading The Art of War and getting to work an hour earlier. Currently, I find the most satisfaction from riding my bike around the neighborhoods and into downtown in the mornings before work. ~10 miles, about 55 minutes each morning, and I am clear mentally and can already recognize one accomplishment for the day. Oh and I’ve lost a considerable amount of the weight I put on. And my calves are gigantic.
Recently, in a meeting with the highest level of leadership I have the privilege of interacting with, an individual strongly urged the department heads to seek out The Art of War – something I had already sought it. Especially since it was free on iTunes. What struck me though most though, was that this particular individual is decorated in education, experience, and results – but they went on to illustrate multiple forms of media including films that they drew influence from. This is absolutely a tactic I use – I’ve seen enough House M.D. (and grew up around actual MD’s – so calm down) – that I could rattle of diagnostic terms and function in a think tank without making up words.
If you haven’t embraced this method – or even if you have put the self sought learning to the side, I implore you to pursue it. It may even be a topic of business completely irrelevant to your current goals and plans – but if my experience is of any relevance, you might happily be in another position as your path develops.