Engineer your best effort, today
If you’re comfortable in your job, you may be on a stagnant plateau, of little use, and not realize it, suggested Mike Lipkin, a motivational speaker with the Environics Research Group, at the 2016 Connect conference from Schneider Electric in May. In such a case, you should get fired with enthusiasm before you get fired with enthusiasm, he suggested, after discussing the "Six stages of new."
It’s a challenge to always be new, especially if you’re not new, he noted. Additional thoughts and advice follow, paraphrased from Lipkin, who spoke to system integrators on Monday, May 23, and to other conference attendees on Tuesday.
Keeping fresh can be an issue. Mick Jagger still puts on a relevant, musically engaging, energetic show at 72. Matthew McConaughey noted when he was collecting an Academy Award that his hero is "me in 10 years," which never allows him to get there, always keeps him growing. It’s important to work as much on ourselves as on our jobs.
That means working on important things in Quadrant 1, not just the urgent things, citing the famous time allocation graphic by Steven Covey.
Because the most painful human emotion is regret, it’s important to do those important things right now. We should "pre-crastinate," rather than procrastinate.
Help your team and your customers to the next level of engineering excellence.
One day should reflect the expertise of a whole career. This presentation is 52 minutes long, and that’s how you judge me. Yes, I will take your money, but I’m not doing this for the money. I’m demonstrating joy for what I’m doing. Sometimes it’s a challenge to be this effusive. Show those around you how happy you are to be there in front and serve them.
Learn the six stages of new
It’s possible to learn from the "six stages of new" after identifying them.
1. Beginner: Beginners often are the most motivated people and often are chosen to do projects deemed by others to be impossible because they have a poorly developed sense of the odds against them.
2. Breakthrough: Those in this stage who do well are sometimes said to have "beginner’s luck," perhaps especially by those in later stages.
3. The wall: Is the stage at which people are tired and overwhelmed with difficulties.
4. Consolidation: Here people reset, review, and re-engage. An often-cited statistic says 70% of North American workers just show up; less than one-third are engaged.
5. Mastery: Experience, insights, and effectiveness become trademarks.
6. Plateau: Is characterized by complacency, when we’re dreaming of the finish line and stop chasing the person we could be in 10 years’ time. Often people get stuck here and do not even know it.
We have to keep becoming the beginner, even as we reach the stage of mastery.
Five tips to always be new
To always be new, use these five tips.
1. Keep a new mindset by fusing the familiar with the fresh.
Keep learning and expanding your mastery and do not say what you do not believe. Dwell in the intersection of dreams and disruption. Blend experimentation with repetition and translate inspiration into practice, where courage beats fear. Be the disruptor, not the disruptee. Note that Einstein reminded us that an experiment is not an experiment if you know it won’t turn out. Say what you’re going to do and do it. Be inspired AND take action. Keep the inspiration after making the commitment. Note that courage without fear is recklessness. Here are some examples.
Tony Bennett, 90, and Lady Gaga, 30, did a video duet, and in 2014, Bennett became the oldest man to hit the Billboard Top 200. Apple took something familiar and made it revolutionary by introducing the Apple Pencil for the iPad Pro. Amazon opened its first real bookstore after years of online-only sales.
When meeting with someone who seems like an idiot to you, be nice, because in someone else’s life, you’re the idiot. AND, besides, what happens if the idiot is right? AND, what happens if someone discovers you’re not so clever?
Be open to new ideas. The mind, like a parachute, works best when open.
2. What does fabulous look like?
Fabulous is almost unbelievable, incredibly, and exceptionally good or unusually superb; something told about in fables.
The average coffee drinker consumes 45,000 cups in a life time and knows that coffee is a miracle when needed. It can help provide focus, especially when, "All that matters is today."
"When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful," said Malala Yousafzai, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, who was shot by the Taliban for wanting education for women.
Sometimes, you have to take the shot, especially when you have a sense of the whole game. The U.S. Woman’s World Cup, in the winning match against Japan, had one player, Carli Lloyd, who scored three goals in the final in just 16 minutes. For the third goal, she saw two defenders coming at her, AND that the goalie was offline. From midfield, Lloyd kicked a high arch over defenders and a leaping-backward goalie, for her third goal.
Sometimes customers may be impressed that you took the shot even without scoring. Winners will always lose more than losers. There is no rejection, only customers who cannot appreciate the quality offered.
Most people’s comfort zones are small, and that’s where the magic happens. If you’re growing, don’t expect to be comfortable.
3. How am I demonstrating unique value?
Why are you so valuable to your customers? Why should I work with you? If everyone is experienced, reliable, dependable, and creative, what’s the tiebreaker? Every win is a tiebreaker. The only easy day was yesterday, according to U.S. Navy Seals.
I provide people with insights to do things they would not do, to get results they wouldn’t have otherwise gotten. Words define, and a situation describes.
Every meeting is the only one that matters. What would happen if a lion was worrying about unanswered email while trying to take down a water buffalo?
Be best at what matters most (not better or good).
We like friends who speak the same language. Learn the language of your customers. As you speak, create a signature vocabulary that helps people sign a contract with their dreams. This is important because people speak at roughly 200 words a minute, while the brain processes roughly 800 words per minute. If you’re not engaging, three other people could be talking in your customer’s head while you’re speaking.
Jeff Bezos at Amazon said that your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room. What are they saying?
Now, at your next meeting, are you going to be incredibly excited? Will you be there because you have to be there, or because you want to be there?
4. Am I being a catalyst?
Be that person who precipitates a defining event or change, a person whose talk, enthusiasm, or energy causes others to be more friendly, enthusiastic, or energetic. Fumble your way forward with confidence. As you’re stretching, you may often feel wrong, but never be in doubt. And quickly correct errors, as soon as possible.
Sheryl Sandberg said that motivation comes from working on the things we care about. It also comes from working with people we care about.
Tiffany’s is known for and could tout many things, but the core is that they help people celebrate.
Live in a way that enhances the freedom of others, said Nelson Mandela, who, in prison for so many years, said he didn’t suffer. For 27 years in jail, Mandela prepared daily to live life "so I could transform my nation when released." Remember that your worst day often would rate as someone else’s fantasy.
5. How do I condition myself mind, body, and soul?
Success is not only a mastery of concepts. It’s a function of mojo. How much energy can you bring to every conversation? When on stage, I have to bring my "A" game every time. On certain days, it may take all you have just to keep up with the losers.
A mixed-martial arts champion noted that he trains 363 days a year and defends his title twice a year. If he wins, nothing changes. If he loses, his world crumbles.
A cheetah runs up to 60 mph, and it misses prey half the time. Even so, I never saw a cheetah feeling sorry for itself and saying, "Screw this, I’m becoming a vegetarian."
Some people in sales calculate the average number of times they have to hear "No," to get a "Yes," and then quantify what each "No" is worth. It may be a lot less difficult to hear "No" knowing the value of each.
"What you feel doesn’t matter in the end; it’s what you do that makes you brave," said Andre Agassi, in Open, his autobiography.
Don’t be bashful. Be your own champion. It’s easier to act your way into a way of thinking than think your way into a way of acting. Do what needs to be done. Listen to the instinct. And do it now.
On a tour in Africa savanna, a game ranger warned that before sleeping, the tent flaps should be securely tightened because when fire goes out in the camp, predators come in. Make sure you burn bright, and don’t burn out. Use these tips to stay fresh and new with your engineering responsibilities. Either you will be fired with enthusiasm or you will be fired with enthusiasm, Lipkin noted.
Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Six stages of new range from beginner to plateau.
- Goal is to blend mastery with beginner freshness.
- Tips can help retain or regain freshness.
What can you change to start addressing things you should, rather than what seems urgent now, but less important, in the long term?
See related articles about engineering-related inspirational advice linked below.