When did you last invest in yourself? By that I mean take some time out to do some thinking or attend a course to sharpen up your skills.
As the cadence of our working lives seems constantly to increase, it is too easy to put off time for reflection, review or re-booting. Yet, if you examine what it is that makes super successful people so successful, you’ll find that they all set aside time to step back and consider the larger picture.
A year or so ago I attended a dinner and found myself next to a gentleman who used to be in charge of a large nuclear power plant with responsibility for around 30,000 people. What a fascinating dinner companion he was. During our conversation, I asked him to share one of his greatest life lessons and he recounted a story from when he was an apprentice shadowing some highly experienced engineers as they tried to solve a problem with a key piece of malfunctioning equipment.
After hours of unsuccessful diagnosis, parts replacement and testing, the best of the best were still scratching their heads, while he kept out of their way at the back of the room. Standing there, he noticed that the board on which all this electro-mechanical wizardry was mounted was awry, only by a couple of degrees or so but by enough, it seems, to affect the highly sensitive parts mounted upon it. By stepping away, the solution came into view. Taking his courage in his hands – bear in mind, he was the apprentice – he approached the senior engineer and shared his observation. The team re-grouped, re-aligned the board and, hey presto, everything went back to normal.
This story highlights, in a very literal way, the importance of stepping back, particularly when faced with a difficult issue or challenging situation. Sometimes, we are so close to a problem that it’s hard to think differently about it. With so much change happening in our industry, it is vital to take time to invest in personal growth, to challenge your belief systems, to see different perspectives and to think about new opportunities. Schedule some time without distraction, away from the office. Take a pen and a notebook and let your thoughts drift.
See you out there.
Phil Jones MBE,