You are now officially in a summer month in the northern hemisphere which means you are busier than a cobra at a mongoose convention! You are trying to serve internal or external clients and play your part in making us a great organization. As you make that happen this summer please know that you are doing something for yourself and your career as well. You are becoming an expert!
In 2008 Malcom Gladwell wrote a book entitled “Outliers.” In the book Gladwell provided several examples of people that mastered the “10,000-Hour Rule.” He theorized that the key to success in any field is largely a matter of investing the time (10,000 hours) practicing a specific task.
From 1960 to 1964 The Beatles performed over 1200 times in Hamburg, Germany amassing their 10,000 hours of performing as a group long before they returned to England or showed up on the Ed Sullivan Show in the US. Bill Gates in 1968 at the age of 13 gained access to a high school computer and probably wrote more code than anyone on the planet, from then until 1970 completing his 10,000 hours very quickly. This effort of practice gave Gates and Microsoft and advantage for the next 50 years.
The point of my message is that we often honor superstars for their talent but we don’t see the time and commitment that they have put into their craft to perform the way they do largely unnoticed at the time. Several leaders in our organization interview talent every day that come out of college or even have their MBA with the expectation that they are ready to advance quickly. The reality is that in most of these cases the only thing that they are an expert in is being a student!
Many of us stand in front of the micro wave and wonder why it takes so long to heat up. The truth, however, is that it would likely taste better if we took the time to cook something in an oven. Time is almost always an advantage in making something better. I realize that I am sounding like a bit of old fart but the time you take to master portions of our business today will help you in career. You will be far better off becoming an expert in something before moving on to the next opportunity.
Within this industry I spent seven years in operations, an equal amount of time in a direct sales role, and a lot more years than that in leading operational or sales teams. At Graebel I feel I contribute two main things in my role today. First, I try to have a vision for where our group needs to be three, five and ten years from now. I wouldn’t be able to do that if I didn’t know how the individual groups really operated or fit together or talked to clients to gain an understanding of what they face. The second thing I try to do is to bring on and develop the right talent that allows us to execute that strategy. In my LinkedIn profile I list my title as “Coach.” While I am thrilled to hire and lead people today I didn’t have any natural talent in this area when I first started. The very first guy I hired 27 years ago didn’t even come back from lunch on his second day! Time has helped that a bit as I have gained coaching from others and started utilizing tools that help in that process.
As the summer drags on you are going to process files and consult with transferring families and attempt to make miracles happen when there is no known solution dozens or even hundreds of times. Sometimes this feels tedious, but please know that every one of these encounters is shaping you to become the person you were created to be. Maybe you aren’t supposed to write music like John Lennon but there is an absolute satisfaction in knowing that you are great at something!