February 19, 2018

What can we learn from a stalled career?

Carol still applies for senior jobs that come up, but she’s lost count of the interviews she’s been to over the years only to be disappointed. She doesn’t tell her family anymore when she’s in the running for a new position. They can tell though.

Carol’s well-qualified, with plenty of relevant experience and good results to show for it. Her face just doesn’t seem to fit. That’s what she tells herself anyway, not noticing her victim mindset. The self-talk keeps her self-esteem up.

If nothing changes, she’ll see out the rest of her career at  her current level.

But wait, maybe the explanation is all wrong…

Maybe it’s because her attention is mostly on herself; maybe she doesn’t hear other people out; maybe she doesn’t focus on what’s important for them. I may be wrong, but that is my personal experience of her. Perhaps the interviewers somehow sense that Carol could be difficult to work with – focused on her own issues and oblivious to theirs.

It’s likely others experience Carol as not really attending to other people, but do any of them ever tell her? I doubt it. So they help sustain her misconception about her lack of advancement.

I’m complicit too…

I haven’t told her my hunch about what may be holding her back. I feel I don’t know her well enough.

And so Carol carries on with her behavior, oblivious to what’s holding her back, and what other people can see.

So what’s my takeaway?

Well, there’s the obvious one: “Attending to others” (listening and more) is a vital behavior. That’s a reminder for me too, having failed to do this with a friend recently.

But there’s a bigger learning…

We can’t depend on other people telling us what we’re doing wrong, even if they can see it.

So we need to develop our own self-awareness and sensitivity to feedback. We need an attitude of personal mastery – an openness to learning about how we interact with other people.

How do you tackle this? How do you track your own effectiveness