A ship that floats in water can also sink in it

smooth sailingThe title of my blog today is quite unusual for me in that it doesn’t seem to be very inspiring; the post will be though!  It is an important point, one that I’ve been trying to make sure that my interns know.  For the most point I try to instill confidence in my interns; get them to see their potential and get them to feel ready for life in the “real world”.  However, I also don’t want them to over-reach or be overconfident and then lose their confidence and have to begin again!

I was reminded of this saying after reading these two posts “Strike a balance between over optimistic views and realistic attitudes by Ferdinando Pennarola and “Tips For Success In Your Personal Development” by Tongue95David.

Incidentally this post also applies to myself as well as my interns.  This week sees me back in the States, looking for a place to live before starting a new position within the company I work for in August.  It’s going to be a big change for me; I’ve spent the last 14 years working within one group with a completely different manufacturing process to my new position and group.  I’ve also worked mainly in Europe (UK & France), so USA is going to be a little different.  As a result, I’m very excited to start this new challenge and I’m learning lots and lots of new things all the time.

For me and for my interns, starting a new position is a good thing.  Change is good!  When a company hires you (or transfers you) they want you to succeed.   So they are going to give you the resources and the help that you need getting started.  However you have to be open to it.  You have to be willing to change, to be open to differences in culture and routine, and you have to embrace the change.  You may have been top dog in your old position, but who knows what will happen with your new one.  Be humble, be open and you will soon be sailing at full speed.  If you keep your mind and habits stuck in the ways of your previous position though, you may just sink!

Of course this also applies when you don’t change position.  You could be working the same position for several years, a change occurs and suddenly your boat has hit a metaphorical iceberg and you start to sink.  So how can you avoid becoming the next Titanic, and keep your boat afloat?  Here’s a few ideas that could help!

1. Know yourself, your strengths and your weaknesses

Work on your weaknesses and play to your strengths.  Be open to training, be honest with yourself and others and challenge yourself so that you are always in the mindset of continuously improving yourself.  If you embrace this concept, you will soon get used to change!  Being weak in an area is not a liability, it’s not a fault.  It is simply an area to improve an area that you can grow.

The original Titanic courtesy of wikipedia
The original Titanic courtesy of wikipedia

2. Build up a network of people whose strengths compliment your weaknesses

If you cannot do something yourself, then the next best thing is to know someone who can.  They in turn will have weaknesses, so sharing your strengths will help them as they in turn help you.  Of course, don’t just stop there, you never know when someone in your network will be able to help you solve a problem, even in subjects where you feel you are an expert.

The same applies to having the answers.  Know who to go to in your organisation (or within your network) to find the answers.  You don’t need to have all the information yourself, just know where to get it!  No-one is perfect, and no-one is expected to be perfect.  The old adage information is power is just that – OLD.  Information is now freely available to all via the internet.  Tomorrows leaders won’t be subject matter experts, they will be experts at using information.

3. Be receptive

Be receptive to criticism.  You will never get it right 100% of the time, but you can always learn from your mistakes and improve your techniques!  Remove the words “but” and “no” from your vocabulary.  Instead ask “why” and “how”.  Say things like “Could you please explain?”

Be receptive to new ideas and new opportunities.  You know the saying, you cannot teach an old dog new tricks?  Well, you can, but only if the old dog wants to learn!  No matter your age, if you are closed off, you won’t improve.  If you are one of the older generation, find yourself a reverse mentor, to keep you young and keep you up to date with new technologies.  If you are one of the younger generation, find yourself an older mentor to help you gain experience and help you avoid the common pitfalls.

leaders4. Remember there is always someone that knows more than you do!  

No matter how good you think you are, there is always someone better.  In addition, since technology is constantly changing, it’s probable that what you know will also become outdated and need to be updated.  The best leaders aren’t worried about looking stupid or of making mistakes, they simply want to continue developing and growing both themselves and their people.

And that’s it.  I’m sure there are many other tips, so please post them below.  I’ll probably not post myself so much this week due to the travelling, so apologies in advance, but next week I should be back on track.  In the meantime, feel free to post your comments and look through my older posts.

+Alesandra Blakeston

2 thoughts on “A ship that floats in water can also sink in it

  1. Hi Alesandra,

    First, best of luck with the move and the new position. Travel safe.

    The thing I love about a new role in a new place is the chance to “clean house”. You have the opportunity to re-establish a “new you”, leaving old baggage behind. We all have areas we want to improve and develop, because we learn as we go. Sometimes it’s hard though to make changes when you stuck in your old environment and relationships. A fresh start gives you a chance to reshape, to polish.

    So, my tip would be, take some time to review your performance over the last few years. What did you do well, what would you like to do differently in the new role. Write it all down and commit.

    On a plane is a great place for this – it’s somehow gives greater perspective (40,000 feet!); much like hindsight.

    All the best,

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