Don’t make it about you

First full attribution that I’m really just re-stating Patty’s advice to be more relevant so you should absolutely read that if you haven’t already.

Whatever it is you want.  A job, a promotion, a new opportunity, more headcount, travel approval, budget increase, a spiffy new sports car that the spouse can’t seem to appreciate — you will increase your probability of getting it, if you can get out of your own way and quit trying to make it about you.

It needs to be about them.

The harsh reality is no one cares what you want.

The trick to getting what you want, is to do the heavy lifting to connect the dots, to make what they want and what you want the same thing.

If you start the process by explaining to them why they need to care about what you want, you have already stacked the deck against success.  The more work you do up front to make it about them, the better chance of success.

What if you don’t know what they want?

I’d suggest that would be the most important gap to fill — as without that you are likely not going to reach the full potential of the relationship.

What if what they want is wrong?

Well I’d suggest you have a lot of work ahead of you, and you had best get started.  No one said this was easy.

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On deliberate practice and comfort zones

I think we are all familiar with the importance of deliberate practice to building expertise and becoming your best self.

I often coach people on the importance of discovering what things you should be practicing, especially as it impacts getting to a new career level.  One of the most obvious tricks I recommend, is to watch those leaders who are where you want to be, and see what they do that you don’t.

This helps you target the list of what to practice to the outcome you are looking to achieve.

For myself, I have decided to work on velocity and context shifts.  Now those who have worked with me, are probably surprised to hear velocity, since this is a strength.  But there is a specific kind of velocity that I want to improve (remember we are talking about deliberate practice, not just generic practice).  I want to get better at the preparation, delivery and recovery cycles with business and audience context shifts.

Context shifting — between lots of different kinds of business needs, is something I observe those above me doing fairly effortlessly.  For me this is a hard.  The ability to quickly prepare-act across different contexts is something that I want to improve.  My theory is that the regroup/recovery process can be shortened, in a similar fashion to how you can train your body to recover from high impact cardio (or so I’m told, I haven’t done much in the way of cardio lately).

I have observed, that much of what I believe I need today for context switch recovery, is really not what I need but what I enjoy having.   I like a lot of time to prepare on different topics (mentally), I like a lot of control on how many different things I need to prepare for in a single day, and how many different points of view I need to be able to comprehend and represent.

I don’t like to mix internal and external audiences without some mental regroup time.  This is stuff that defines my comfort zone, and as such it also defines my limitation. My comfort zone is not where I need to be — it is where I am today.  In recent months, I have been leveraging opportunities to say yes to things that support this deliberate practice.  To push myself into more frequent (and relentless) context switching, and to move past my inherent resistance, to build up this new professional muscle.

It hasn’t been easy but it is working.   So while there is no fuelband or fitbit gadget to use for tracking, I’m happy to report I am making progress and that is a very good thing.

What about you?  What are you focusing your deliberate practice energy to accomplish?  How is that aligned with your career goals?