Have you Recently Felt Underprepared or Under Skilled?
Several years ago, I was standing in a boardroom about to present a proposal I really believed in and desperately wanted to get signed off. I had already socialised my work and the motivations behind it, but I still had 1-2 colleagues I needed to get across the line. In that moment I knew my proposal would sink or float based on my ability to steer the conversation and effectively sell the impact of what could be achieved and perhaps more importantly the risks/opportunity costs in not moving forward in that way at that time. Fortunately, earlier in my career, I'd realised that sales, negotiation and influencing skills would be pivotal to my future career success, so I'd sought out formal training and spent years practising. It was that prior investment, that helped me prepare for the moment at hand and gave me the confidence to really back myself and the proposal.
I use these skills everyday in my work, but I'm never complacent about them. I watch others who are masters in this space, and I know I can keep improving and must gain more experience....especially as the conversations, stakes and outcomes get bigger and bigger. I spend time reflecting on interactions and calls (both the good and bad ones) and wonder what I can learn from them - how might I have responded differently, prepared better, taken things in an alternative direction at a certain point in time to have achieved a more successful conclusion? I ask myself - what went well and why, what should I repeat next time, what small goals can I set myself and practise to be better in the future, because the bar is always rising!
Take the time to understand what makes ‘the best’ great, and keep adding to and improving your skills & experience over time. In my recent article on investing in your professional foundations, I talk about learning, upskilling and always trying to become a master of your craft by considering all the necessary attributes of your role - technical, practical, leadership, emotional, social, wellbeing, etc. Don’t just focus on the obvious, professional skill development is diverse and different for everyone. For example, wellbeing is quickly becoming treated as a business-critical skill that can be improved through training and development , just like sales and negotiation skills, so if you need to update or add some complimentary skills, then set a goal and go get them.
High performance and learning go hand in hand, but not in the ‘attend every available webinar’ kind of way. Strategic learners observe, they experiment, and then they reflect. Learning requires risk taking, being open to trial and error and seeking feedback. Insights come from pushing outside your comfort zone, actively planning and then reviewing. Make a professional habit of inciting curiosity and asking questions, find ways to bring people together and open up conversations, encourage diverse and creative problem solving. When you’re in a constant state of learning, you are more highly engaged and quicker to adapt with change.
If you lack courage or feel exposed by a lack of skill and experience that you may need, then identify it and start proactively working on it... because somewhere down the track you are going to experience a defining career moment, where the doors will either open or shut, and it's up to you to be ready for it!
 The priority for workplaces in the new normal? Wellbeing by Liz Hilton Segel for the World Economic Forum
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