Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Building the Mississippi

I'm a big fan of management books and I consider it a personal mission to help people I know do what they're good at. I also would not deny that I generally advocate for ignoring rules, other than ones that would land you in jail or are necessary to protect people's happiness and freedom. Wrap all these up and your have two books by Marcus Buckingham, First, Break all the Rules and Now Discover Your Strengths, both of which I love, admire, and hold up as examples of how to conduct my career and my life.

The most powerful statement I've heard him make in various speeches is simple, concise, and such good advice that I wish there was a way to telecast it to anyone in the working world. "Find a small stream in which your strengths can flow and then see if you can carve it into the Mississippi." Incredible. This statement and adherence to it turns the whole notion of job performance, corporate culture, and career planning on its head. It puts the job seeker in total charge and in one short sentence gives you a complete action plan:

1.) Find what you're good at
2.) Find a company that has a niche, however small, that can be filled well by your strengths
3.) Work like hell to blow out that niche that makes you a rock star

I've been continually thinking about Barry Schwartz and The Paradox of Choice almost to a point of obsession in my efforts to simplify anywhere and everywhere I can in my life. The three steps above eliminate all of the guess work and maneuvering that goes on when people try to climb the corporate ladder. Just know what you do well, find a place that wants you to do what you're good at, and make it your duty to use those strengths to create value. Think of the richness, gratification, and satisfaction we can find at work with this mindset. It's how people at Google must feel everyday...and entirely accessible to each of us.

No comments: