As I work to improve my skills as a coach, there is a suggested best practice that if a coach can relate an experience that a client finds stressful, to an experience that is typically less stressful, the client will understand their stressful situation more clearly. This is what I have found with my poker analogy. In poker, you will be dealt either a good hand or a bad hand. Regardless of the hand you are dealt, it is the hand you have to play. More of your energy should be spent figuring out how to play the hand. By comparing their workplace to a poker hand – my clients seem better able to understand their situations, and more importantly, think more clearly about what to do about them.
My observation that no one knows you better than you do doesn’t come from years of scientific study. It comes from more than a decade of working one on one with clients and helping them build self-awareness. When I ask my clients, “Who knows you best?” what do you think they say? It is always, always, the same answer: “I do.”
As my tenure as a coach grows, and as I meet an increasing number of client prospects, I have noticed recurring themes among individuals who don’t think about working with a coach, or who don’t want a coach.
When it comes to introducing yourself to colleagues you don’t know, do you avoid introducing yourself at all costs? Perhaps you are highly uncomfortable or severely under-skilled. Much like getting a flu shot, you want your introduction to be quick and painless. In fact, you wouldn’t introduce yourself to others at all if you could avoid doing so. Do any of the following “Avoider” characteristics seem familiar to you when you think about introducing yourself to others?
Your time is precious. Your days are already packed with meetings, conference calls, overdue deliverables, and unanticipated interruptions. Working to raise your visibility in your organization and industry requires that you focus your precious time on specific activities and behaviors that help you produce results. Anyone can engage in a bevy of activities that keep them busy, yet you cannot afford that luxury. In other words, the investment of time and energy you make in your efforts to raise your visibility must be productive. What is the difference between keeping busy and being productive?
It is important to recognize that visibility and value are deeply symbiotic in your organization and industry. You already know that professional risks exist for busy business professionals who are invisible or undervalued in their organization. You do not want to be visible without providing value, and it is hard to demonstrate the value that you provide if you are invisible.
Research tells us that how we define something dictates the activities we subscribe to it. There is a famous example from the turn of the 19th century that illustrates this point. In an effort to change how the public perceived his company, the president of a railroad company declared, “We are not a train company – we are a transportation company!” Suddenly, by viewing his organization as a provider of transportation and not just an owner of trains, he created new customer perspectives and business opportunities.
By all accounts, the world of work you are experiencing is significantly different than your parents’ world of work. The old ways of networking and measuring performance are ineffective in the face of unprecedented change and transparency.
In order for an organization to obtain value from you and for you to raise your value in your organization, you must capitalize on either an existing way of creating value or identify new ways to create value.