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Built for it

by Randall Craig on June 25, 2008

Filed in: Blog, Career Planning, Make It Happen Tipsheet

Tagged as: , , , ,

Recently I was watching a roofer hauling heavy materials up and down a ladder. A neighbor, also watching, commented that the roofer was built for his job – he was built for it.

What is “it”, and how do you build yourself for it? Stripped to the essence, these are the two critical questions in career planning.

While roofing might not be your chosen profession, what would others say about you: are you “built” for your job? How does one become “built” for anything? Sometimes, we prepare for our careers and we find that we do indeed have a passion for our chosen profession. Sometimes we prepare for a certain career, and opportunity brings us somewhere else. And sometimes there is a disconnect between what we do, and how we appear to others.

Before making any changes to your job or your career, consider the issue of appearance – and expectations.

Why is it that we expect professors to have bookshelves lined with textbooks and scholarly magazines? Or firefighters to be large and muscular? Or doctors to have many diplomas framed in their offices? Those who do their best – even roofers – all seem to have a few things in common with each other: they are built for it, and it shows.

  • The bookshelves in a professors office brand them as learned – but also serve as a living reference to the work that they did to achieve their success.
  • The firefighter’s muscularity brands them as capable of doing their job – yet their strength only comes from long hours of physical training.
  • The doctor’s diplomas brand them as being knowledgeable and trustworthy – yet the diplomas were earned after years of medical school.

In all of these cases, the “appearance” of being built for it only exists because of the hard work becoming built for it.

A professor without books – or a weak-looking firefighter – is almost impossible to imagine. Yet how many people expect to achieve success without giving thought to what they are built for now (eg what they have done in the past that got them where they are now), and what they are building for in the future? Look around at the most successful people you know, and consider how they “built” themselves for their role, and what they are building for in the future.

This week’s action item: What are you building right now? Even if you aren’t sure what “it” is, find a way to extend yourself by committing to doing something new: take on a new responsibility at work, sign up for some training, or volunteer in the community. As any roofer knows, if you’re not doing any building this week, then nothing will be built this week. (And if you don’t build this year, then nothing will be built this year…)

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Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)