What Am I Going To Do When I Grow Up?

Archive for September 2008

We have all heard that networking is fundamental to our career. We may have even remarked with a touch of bitterness at times that it is “not what you know but who you know” that determines success in our careers. Yet, we clearly believe it IS important to focus on what we know because we continually invest in education. What we know is crucial to our success in life, crucial to our ability to lead, and crucial to confidence, but what if it is equally important to know who we are, what we value in relationships, and practice building community in service to those values? How could it be beneficial to focus on how what we know relates to who we know? How could that build a lifetime of successes?

So, how do children network? What would it mean to see networking as building friendships? As being in relationship with others?  As building community around common values? So,  how do we learn to build relationships at school? At home? How can we learn to take those skills with them as they envision possible careers? How is education in this key developmental way a stage of life, not
preparation for life? If we see life as a process of building relationships, and that starts as children, the stronger a foundation we create in our neighborhoods and schools, the more opportunities we tap.

As we set about to create opportunities for ourselves, how is having a grounded sense of self as innately likeable just as crucial to success as grades or natural intelligence? What if the kernel of truth in “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” means that success is first and foremost about knowing who you are? And, THEN forming strong relationships that build our strengths so we shine?

When hiring a professional, certain experiences and skills are likely to move a candidate into the interviewing pool, but the question of getting hired will rest on how well the candidate resonates with the organization. Central to establishing a good fit is a candidate able to clearly articulate who they are and how they fit into the organization. So, bottom line, people hire people because they like them. This is not a bad thing. This is crucial to making sure there are great relationships at work. Great teams begin with great relationships. Great relationships start with great communication skills.

This desire to resonate is true in friendships as well. We might notice particular interests, witty remarks, or knowledgeable observations, but the reason we move from surface level similarities to great friendships is because of HOW the information was shared. Did their humor, ideas, or actions resonate with ours? Were they likeable? So, again, what we know is very important, but, if not shared appropriately, knowledge alone doesn’t motivate buy in, loyalty, or build solid relationships.

When we learn from our relationships and when we have great relationships with our educators, we have greater knowledge of self, greater likability, and greater success. So, what kinds of relationship do we want to form with our peers? What about with ourselves? What if each of us really knew who we were? What would be the power of them articulating what we value about relationships? How might our success depend on it?