Am I My Job?

In the "Fifth Discipline", Peter Senge talks about one of the learning disabilities is the belief that I am my job.  This means that a person behaves as he thinks a person in his position "should" behave instead of behaving authentically.  So what does this idea mean in practical terms. 

Let me give you a personal example.  Early in my career I was given the title "Consultant" and I did not feel anymore like an expert than the man in the moon.  So I tried to behave as I thought a "Consultant" should behave.  Thus I put pressure on myself to be something that I wasn’t.  You have to know that is just simply trouble.  As I learned more about the role of the consultant the more I realized my early thinking was a problem.

Another personal example.  In 1973, we formed Gellman, Hayward & Partners Ltd. and I was one of the founding partners.  With my name on the door, again I was confused, was I the company or was I just one of the partners.  It created no end of confusion for me because I took all the problems that developed in the firm personally.  What a crock!

So what is the lesson.  Whatever your job title or current assignment, be who you are not what you think you "should" be or what others think you "should" be.  Be authentic.  I know from personal experience that is not easy but realistically that is all you can be.  Do not behave as you think a project manager should behave just do the job the best way you know how but be yourself.

Thinking we have to be the "expert" is similar, we are always more aware of what we do not know than what we know.  Also to be able to help someone we need to act the best way we know how.  Do not let people put you on a pedestal but do your best to help.  However as Harvey would say, leave no stone unturned to find ways to help.

Senge talks about mastery if I recall.  Learning new things and being open to learn from everybody is important.  People do not have to know more than you do for you to learn from them.  We all have different experiences.  Striving to be the best that we can be is a great ambition as long as you do not treat your current ability as insufficient.  Our dissatisfaction is simply our desire to become more of a master.  Mastery is a journey, not a destination.  A job title is no more than that a job title, it is not who you are. 

Remember I am whom I am.   You are who you are, no more, no less.

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