This post is Part 10 in a 12-part blog series on humility and growth. (If you missed the first post, you can find it here.)
Many of us struggle with our work and career. For example, we might be at the beginning of our careers and are having a difficult time figuring out which direction to go. As a result, we stay stuck. Or maybe we are unemployed or underemployed. We might want to make a change to improve our situation, but we don’t know how to do it. Or we might even know the change we want to make, but be too scared to make the jump. How can humility help us make positive changes in our work and career?
Humility, Work, and Career
- The problem is our responsibility. We often blame others for our work problems. We might think that our problem is because of our crappy boss, who doesn’t understand how to utilize our talents and skills. Or we might blame our co-workers for not following through on various projects, or even our schools for not providing us with the necessary training to succeed in today’s ever-changing work environment. The problem is that engaging in this blame game doesn’t result in any positive change or growth. To make concrete changes in our work and career, we need to humbly acknowledge that the problem is inside us. This is actually good news, because then we can do something to change our situation.
- The weakness finder. Especially in the area of career, we are told to focus on our strengths. Companies spend thousands of dollars to have consultants come in and give everyone a Strength Finder test, to see how well people’s tasks are lining up with their natural abilities. There is some utility to this. For example, if your strengths are in the areas of creativity, art, and design, you will probably struggle working as an accountant. But often, people struggle or stall out in their work and career because of their weaknesses and limitations. You might struggle to get things done on time, for example. Or you might have a weakness in your skills for working with people, or your leadership. These limitations absolutely must be acknowledged with humility for any real growth or change to happen.
- Get a coach. Career and leadership coaching is a multi-million-dollar industry. There’s a good reason for this. When we are struggling in our work and career, we often need someone to come alongside us and help us deal with the issues that are holding us back. It is helpful to have someone look at our situation from the outside, offer an unbiased opinion, and put together a plan to help us reach our goals. It’s tough to figure it out on our own.
- Feedback, feedback, feedback. One of the most recent innovations in leadership consulting involves something called 360-degree feedback. What this means is that managers will get feedback from a variety of sources about their performance, including supervisors, employees, and people at the same level. This comprehensive feedback gives people a fuller picture about their performance from a variety of sources. In the same way, we need honest, open feedback from others about our work performance, in order to know how we are doing.
- Work at the edges of your ability. In work, like many areas of life, we often get to a point where we are competent and comfortable, and stay there. We don’t like to feel uncomfortable and push ourselves, because it doesn’t feel good. The problem is that this way of doing life results in little improvement. If you want to grow and change, you need to continually find opportunities to push yourself to develop new skills and areas of expertise.
Discussion: What is one thing you would like to change or improve about your work and career? How could you use these humility principles to help you reach your work and career goals?