Listening to junior employees, I find quite a few of them are not sure whether they are stepping up in work. If a student joins a company in April 2014, he/she will have been working for eight months by the end of 2014. During the first few months, “everything is fresh” to him/her, but it’s about time he/she is starting to realize he/she is not making progress as fast as before.
A couple of years after joining a company, you become able to complete your task with much less efforts than you used to. You are more relaxed at work, but feeling like something is missing. Looking at colleagues in other departments of your company or reading news articles on the web, you feel people around your age or younger are doing (seem to be doing) much greater things than you do. Then, your anxiety begins: “Am I on the right track?”
Whenever a junior employee comes to me and talks about his/her growing sense of unease, I always give him/her the same advice. “No problem. Do as you do now.”
Do you think I am not taking it seriously? No way. I am confident with my answer. There are two reasons for my confidence.
- You have already cleared a very difficult hurdle when you wonder if you are stepping up
The fundamental problem in people who are making no progress is that they are not aware of the fact. They don’t recognize they are not advancing themselves or lack eagerness for step up. The key is only the lack of awareness is problematic here. As long as you have passion, soon or later, you certainly step up.
In fact, the most common challenge in personnel development I hear is lack of thirst for step up. The vast majority of employees forget they need to keep seeking improvement when they become able to handle present tasks at work.
A keen awareness of lacking abilities, skills or knowledge is a driving force for improvement. This is true for junior employees, expert business people, CEO, presidents etc.
2. You improve yourself as if you were stepping up stairs, not walking up slopes.
The other reason is associated with how we skill up. In real life, we never “level up” at work like a character in computer games. Game characters gradually get stronger as they overcome difficulties just like climbing up a slope. On the other hand, our “level up” is like climbing steps .After getting stuck in the mud struggling for a long time, we get out of it all at once. We level up as if a game character obtains a powerful weapon. Once we acquire “how to think” or “how to act”, we become capable of something so quickly. It is interesting to see a level-1 person suddenly elevates his/her capability to level-20 or 30.
To prevent misunderstanding, I would like to emphasize that I do not deny tireless efforts here. No matter how many times you are taught how to think or act, you never acquire it. For example, if you are told to stand in someone else’s shoes, what are you going to do? How to stand in someone else’s shoes can only be figured out by those who relentlessly pursue it at work or in daily life. They always keep it in their mind and try to learn every moment. Then one day after many mistakes, they suddenly grasp “how to think in someone else’s shoes”. They can’t explain “how”, but they know “how”. Until that day, they have to keep working.
Game characters smoothly level up as they accumulate experiences. But you are different. You get inspired through experiences and the slash of inspiration nurtures you. This is how you step up.
This is why my advice to those who think they are not stepping up is “No problem. Do as you do now.”
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