Closing the Delta

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If you took Greek, you’ll be familiar with the Greek Symbol delta, which essentially means difference or change. When working with a friend on some career advice, I talked about the concept of “Closing the Delta.” In this concept, the delta is the difference between the aspirational vision of who you want to be and who you are in reality each and every day

Closing the delta means winnowing the gap between the absolute best version of yourself yourself and who you actually are. On any given day, you have many moments where you exhibit qualities of that aspirational state, and perhaps some qualities that are not aligned with that aspirational state. If you’re struggling with that, good news – it means you’re human!

The beauty in life is working on chasing and winnowing down the delta, and if you choose to accept it, you can use each and every day as a chance to close that gap. It’s not easy, but from my experience it is worthwhile and inspiring to get closer to becoming the person you want to be.

So, how do you start?

First, you need to define that aspirational state. Having a roadmap certainly helps What are the qualities or values you want toe exhibit and espouse?

Second, it means identifying both behaviors that help you work towards that aspirational state, and behaviors that bring you away from that aspirational state. Self-Awareness is an underrated gift, so understanding what you need to do and what you need to avoid is critical to success.

Third, is finding opportunities to exhibit as many of those behaviors that bring you closer to that aspirational state, and figuring out mechanisms to block, circumvent or avoid things that take you away from it.

The chase to become the best version of yourself lasts a lifetime. While I’m fortunate to have a good sense of what that version is, I fight (and fail) every day to live up to it. It’s an incredibly audacious and worthwhile goal, but certinaly something worth fighting for.

 

 

Why you should take that job

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I read alot of career advice on a weekly basis. While much of it comes with good intentions, the delivery and impact isn’t always in alignment, which is why when I write I try to provide thoughts and ideas that are novel and actionable (but please keep me honest if I am not) Fortunately, I came across a piece this week from First Round Review that has some excellent career insights that everyone can learn from (Pro Tip, if you aren’t reading First Round Review, I encourage you to do so right away. While the content is mostly tech-focused, anyone can learn from it, especially the tips and tricks around management and careers)

This week’s thoughtful insights come from Frederique Dame, a former Product Leader at Uber. Frederique had some great ideas about career advice, all of which have helped her achieve her own success. Some of those nuggets include

  • Make Your Own Safety Net – You’ll be fine if it doesn’t work out. Truly, you will. Most career decisions won’t end with you 0 dollars in your name and on the street, so it will truly be fine.
  • Be Elegant – Be deliberate, respond gracefully, take things lightly,  to move through the world with positive purpose
  • Let go of status – Titles are your Enemy.
  • Your Network is your Net Worth – If you struggle with networking, think about empathy, the long-term, and being selfless

While these nuggets (and others) were really thoughtful and insightful, the one the stuck out the most was her thoughts on how to pick a job. She says I’m convinced that the primary reason to take a role is to work with a great manager and a great team. Together, they determine nearly all of your happiness on the job. “

I couldn’t agree more with that statement. The challenge and opportunity of consulting is that you’re constantly changing teams and thus people and managers. You’re always faced with tough decisions on which assignments to take, so the only way to really pick what you want is to develop criteria to guide your decision making. I was told early on, to pick people, not projects, and that mantra has helped me work towards my main career objectives of doing engaging work, learning and developing, and making a positive impact for others. However, even if my career objectives were different, I’m confident that by surrounding myself with a good manager and good team, I’d still be able to achieve them. So when I have to pick new projects, or, when people ask me for advice about a job, I always ask them what is the work you want to do, and who do you want to do the work with?

As Frederique alludes to, it can be easy to get caught up in the coolness of a company, the sexiness of a role or the financial bearings of a particular job. And having at some point had all of those, I can tell you that in of themselves, coolness, sexiness or financial gain are not entirely fulfilling. However, what is fulfilling is working for and with great people.  So when you’re thinking about taking that next project or job, think about the people that come with it.

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Starting at 10 instead of 1

Recently, I had the chance to hear a retired C-Suite Executive give a fireside chat. She talked about her years as an Corporate Officer for a number of Fortune 500 companies and after listening to her for 40 minutes she stood out as one of the most unique and engaging leaders I’ve ever met. She had a track record of results and getting things done, but seemed to be incredibly humble and someone that anyone could relate to, not an easy feat for someone of that stature.

It was clear from her 35 minutes of talking that she had an uncanny ability to build relationships, which helped her achieve success. At one point, someone in the audience asked her a question about how she was able to build successful relationships when she came back with an incredible response.

I think what has helped me is that when I meet someone, if you think about a Scale of 1-10, I tend to start them at a 10. Sure, if they mess up, or lose my trust, they can move down the scale to a 7 or 6, but they can also move back up when they build trust with me to an 8 or 9. However, I think many people, when they first meet others, they start the other person at a 1, and from there, they have to constantly prove themselves in an uphill battle. My approach tends to be a bit more optimistic, positive, and forgiving, but I’ve found that in giving people the benefit of the doubt, I’ve been able to build common ground and trust, and that is the bedrock of a strong relationship. Yes, I’ve gotten burned before, but I’ve won way more than I’ve lost.”

As a positive an optimistic person who loves building great relationships I loved this approach because selfishly, it resonated with me. Trusting people can be hard, but as a C-Suite Executive who needs relationships to achieve results, finding trustworthy partners is an absolute must.

Next time you meet someone, try starting them at a 10 instead of a 1 and see what happens.