You always have to be ready…
I talk a lot about networking and working with others and the title of this post is just one more catch phrase I try to use to help others understand what the real world of work is like. I have the opportunity to work with people of all backgrounds and ages through my volunteer work at the Brentwood United Methodist Church Career Transition Group and my adjunct instructor engagement at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. Working with such diverse client groups has really helped me learn how I must flex and adapt to best meet the needs of each group I work with. College sophomores have different needs than those in the workforce with 5 to 35 years of experience and my style of teaching and promoting learning has to adapt to best connect with these constituencies.
I was walking out of the classroom one day after completing a class and my TA gave me some great feedback. He suggested that I needed to be a little more precise and proscriptive with my college students. He was aware that much of my work was with adults and as a result my default teaching and facilitation style leans toward more experiential learning. The students need more structure than this and as a result I will add more structure and direction to future lessons. I am appreciative of this feedback and feel very blessed to have such a wise TA working with me in the classroom.
There are other ways we need to be prepared and I encountered those when I stepped onto my flight this morning. It was comforting and relaxing to see many faces of those I know from other walks of my life on the same flight I took to work with some clients. We sometimes compartmentalize our lives into work and personal and I am seeing more and more that these continue to overlap and weave into one another. There are positive and negative implications to this intersection. The positive aspects are that I get to know people on a broader and deeper level. The more situations you encounter with someone the greater the comfort level you develop with them. The negative side of this mixing of work and personal is that I often shift into work mode when I should stay in personal mode. This happens all too often as a result of my interest in my work and the fact that I work from home a significant portion of my time. I really have to guard against this so that I do not wear out my welcome with my wife when I should be more focused on my time with her and my family.
Being ready also means you have to be prepared to jump at opportunities when they present themselves. While it may sound hypocritical, based on the last paragraph I wrote, the world is a different place than it was 5, 10 or 20 years ago. The time to process, analyze and consider is shorter now that it has ever been and the pace of change is more rampant than ever. This does not mean that we should chase after every opportunity, but it does mean we should be forward thinking and giving consideration to multiple options in our professional lives, even if we have the greatest job in the world today. I cannot tell you how many people I have worked with in career transition who were so “hunkered down” that they didn’t see the things changing around them. As a result they became victims of circumstances they rarely saw or were aware of.
I have been privileged to be a Boy Scout leader and father of two Eagle Scouts. One of the key mottos of Scouting is Be Prepared. I encourage you to carry this motto over into your personal and professional life. You will never have the time to be prepared for every situation, but you need to be prepared always for the most obvious potential situations.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Think ahead and be prepared.