How do you feel about your mind? I mean really, not on those occasions when you can’t find your car keys or can’t remember why you went into that room…
I think most people feel pretty good about their intelligence, and let’s say they’re right. I don’t mean to suggest that we live in a Lake Woebegone world, where everyone is above average, but let’s just assume that the visitors to this website are among the brightest colors in the crayon box.
What kind of a role does your intelligence play in your career development process? I’m not talking about the schools you attended, or the grades you got, or even the specific work you’ve decided to pursue. I’m talking about what you do day by day, year by year, to further your professional development.
Is that process as smart as you are?
I have a theory that we put all our intelligence into our work and not enough into our careers.
And we suffer for it.
People who are astonishingly creative will write dull as dishwater cover letters and trot out to interviews and job fairs with the usual suspects.
In her book, Blind Spots: Why Smart People Do Dumb Things, author Madeleine Van Hecke identified several ways in which intelligent people can overlook the obvious. These include not noticing, jumping to conclusions and missing the big picture.
Just off the top of your head, do these sound like practices you employ when you should be building your career?
I know I do. I didn’t notice when the boss at one organization was away so much that our product started slipping. Just because one company I worked for was in a virtually recession-proof industry, I jumped to the conclusion that the prospects for this business were fine, too. And when one non-profit I worked for had a lackluster response to a fundraising appeal, I missed the big picture message of the organization’s unclear mission.
But that’s all in the past. The thing that worries me is that I could be repeating these mistakes, or making new and improved ones, in my current work life.
I know one reason why I don’t use my mind as much as I should to build my career.
It’s hard to take a fresh approach to problems you’re familiar with, and imagine new ways of doing things.
But maybe that’s the only smart way to go.
by Danielle Dresden