Like me, you probably receive more magazines, free and paid for, than you can possibly read. If you took the time to do that you would either not have time to do any work or be overwhelmed by so many, often conflicting, prescriptions that you would be paralyzed. If, by chance, you are not confused by all this data you probably are not even reading the rags.
Add to that pile all the unsolicited conference programs, email ads and web letters, Facebook and LinkedIn contacts, and there is no way you are not snowed under. Good golly Miss Molly, what can you do to draw some value from this heap of alleged erudition?
Just as Odyseus had to tie himself to the mast to avoid the call of the Sirens so too must we not be seduced by the songs of the so-called gurus. Peter Drucker said the reason that journalists call people gurus is because they don’t know how to spell charlatan.
Being Tomorrow Today
If there is a single piece of advice that will lead you to success it is simply this. Learn to BE one thing extremely well. Let me clarify the word BE. There is a fundamental difference between doing and being. Doing is your activity. Doing is your job description. Doing is your title. All these things are exterior to you as a person. Being is your purpose, in this case, your career purpose. It is the guide behind doing what you do. There are many things you have to do everyday and some of them may not be directly related to your purpose. You have to decide which of those activities are taking you off the path to your career purpose and how you are going to minimize them.
So, what is your purpose? Is it to manage a function, be an expert or lead others? You can be a very competent manager of a human resources department if you have the aptitude and perseverance. You can be one of the most knowledgeable persons on a given topic to the point that everyone seeks you out. Or you can be a charismatic individual that inspires people to great effort and superlative accomplishments. It is not likely that you can do all three of these. Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, met with Peter Drucker a few years ago. During their conversation Drucker asked Collins what he wanted to be; an expert researcher and writer or manage a consultancy? His point was it’s difficult to be the best at both. Besides, Being one gives more satisfaction than trying to Do both.
The first step is knowing your purpose. The test is what do you enjoy doing most? As Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss.” Becoming a vice president is a goal, not a purpose. Second, do you believe that you have the capability to BE that? The biggest stumbling block is commitment along with the strength and dedication to not stray from your purpose. Whatever your Being purpose, start today. Before you excuse yourself by claiming that you have too much to do right now and will start next week, month or year let me rid you of that misconception. If you don’t start now you never will.
The second step is beginning to BE it. You may have a plate full of duties and people pressing you for your time. So what are you going to do about it? HR people have a great deal of trouble unloading work on others. They are so afraid that someone won’t like them that they spend their lives taking on anything thrown at them. At the end of their career all they have left is a plaintive whimper of “Why didn’t I BE what I was meant to be?
There is Only Now
Yesterday is lost and tomorrow is a fantasy. There is only one reality. That is TODAY. You can make excuses, tell yourself lies, or act. Your life will be a collection of Todays, not tomorrows.