I recently attended a community meeting where I became acquainted with an older gentleman ~Bob~ who had been volunteering for the group for a number of years. He was there representing his consulting firm, which led to a discussion about business, the corporate world and staying relevant.
At the end of the conversation he said something that opened the floodgates of empathy and compassion and I challenged him with curiosity. He said "the longer you're in 'this' business (of consulting) the faster your value goes down." I asked him why. Bob responded that it was because (as a consultant) you weren't in the thick of the corporate world and as a result, there is an unavoidable erosion of your "edge", your understanding and your knowledge of that sector. I politely disagreed and proceeded with a few questions surrounding working with multiple corporates in multiple industries, consistently building your knowledge and learning and growing from all aspects. I told Bob that he had an advantage over corporate warriors, having a seat at the table of more than one corporate entity he could offer a variety of perspectives because of his reach, his exposure and his expertise.
It got me thinking about personal value and not only staying relevant but differentiating yourself ~ whether you're in the workforce or working independently as a consultant.
"You're special but you're not unique."
My mentor once told me that I was "special but not unique". But I wanted to be unique, I wanted to be different and stand out from the crowd, and this is where our work together began. I've learnt that we're all special in our own way but we are not all unique. Building your personal value can lead to your uniqueness and I've found there are a few practices you can instil in your life that will do this.
Follow the Japanese philosophy of kaizen. Translated kaizen is "good change" or change for the better, originating with Toyota manufacturing in Japan. Some refer to it as ongoing, continuous improvement. From an individual standpoint, it's developing a growth mindset ~ taking the perspective of always being a 'work in progress', always learning, growing and evolving. It's consistent striving to become the best version of yourself.
Stay curious. Change is a constant and you need to keep abreast of current events, business practices, science and technology. Be curious about the people you meet, about the thoughts you are having, about your goals, the direction you are taking and how you are getting there. Intellectual curiosity is the hallmark for kaizen.
'On the shoulders of giants.' Learn from those who have come before you, find a mentor and/or a coach to support you on your journey, to help you remain focused and goal oriented. We can learn so much from others who have been there, done that and we'll likely teach them a thing or two along the way.
Live and work through your personal values and core strengths. Have you gone through a values exercise to determine what your personal values are? How about your strengths ~ things that you do well and that energise you ~ do you know what yours are and do you find opportunities to use them often? Your values drive your behaviour and can keep you aligned with the big picture. Your strengths compliment your values and by using them regularly you can increase your performance and engagement.
Build your network. We are hardwired to connect with others and surrounding yourself with people you can learn from, people who support you (and love you), people who can make you laugh and people who champion your cause is essential. According to the late personal development expert Jim Rohn, we are the sum of the people with whom we surround ourselves. Volunteer for a local community group such as the Rotary club or mentor students or young business owners in your area, thereby giving back to the community; volunteering has been demonstrated to increase mental health and happiness. Develop authentic connections.
This list is a work in progress, at the moment it's my blueprint for building my value. Each of the practices require conscious, deliberate effort at a time when we are all time-poor. It's imperative that you make the time.
Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change. Jim Rohn
We are all relevant, but are we all unique? Ask yourself what makes you stand out from the crowd in your field? What are you doing today to improve all of your tomorrows?
Kirsten works with individuals, teams and organisations through initiatives grounded in mindfulness, positive psychology and neuroscience. From wellbeing to performance she can make a significant impact and support you during times of change and uncertainty. Contact her today to tap into your potential!