Finding the Right Level Is Key
One of the aspects of my current career and life right now that I truly enjoy but had not anticipated is that I get to speak with a wide variety of people on a regular basis.
Some might think that I spend too much of my time simply interacting with just about anyone who contacts me, and every once in a while I’d have to agree with them.
A while ago in Chemistry Is a Two-Way Street, I mentioned that I kiss a lot of frogs while searching for a few princesses, but that’s only part of it.
Many of my blogs are inspired by my many interactions with colleagues in one form or another, and I always get something out of every peer interaction.
But this week’s post was motivated by a recent conversation I had with someone who sought me out for some career advice.
What to Do, and How to Be
The ability to find and contact people in your field of interest has never been greater than it is today.
I’d like to think that if I were at the beginning of my career today, I would avail myself to the opportunity to reach out to those doing the kind of work I aspire to do.
The truth is, though, that I’m not sure I would have both the confidence to try and the ability to withstand the possible rejection at a younger age.
So when people who are around the same age as my own children do reach out to me, I do answer their requests as opposed to ignoring them, and I do set up a call with them and share my thoughts with them.
While this speaks to my actions and what I do, I think it has much more to do with how I am.
Let’s hold that thought for a moment, as we’ll get back to it later.
“So I Should Be More Aggressive”
As I was speaking with this young woman from across an ocean, I suggested some actions she might consider taking, in order to better position herself for success.
At one point she nodded and said, “So I should be more aggressive”.
As I wrote that quote just now, I considered ending it with a question mark, but chose not to. As I recall it, she was making a statement, not asking a question.
But that didn’t stop me from offering her my “answer”.
“No, not aggressive”, I replied.
“I think you should be proactive and intentional, there’s a difference”.
The Unconscious Limits of Aggressiveness
This young woman did not come across the least bit aggressive during our time together, and I believe that quality will stand her in good stead throughout her career.
Most people will agree that there are some gender differences that still persist, whereby women who are perceived as too aggressive are judged rather harshly.
However, being proactive is not something that suffers the same drawbacks. And neither does being intentional.
My view is that it is possible to be too aggressive, but much more difficult to be too proactive or too intentional.
What I Do Versus How I Am
Let’s get back to the doing versus being idea we touched on earlier.
While it certainly is true that the way you are influences what you do, I think it’s more the other way around.
That is, what you do, habitually, becomes the way you are.
And maybe the key word in that sentence is “habitually”.
I work with families, where two or more members of a family actually work together, which can lead to some friction.
The good news here is that habits can be changed, slowly but surely, over time.
This takes practice of course, and also, intention.
Intentionally Being Less Aggressive?
It’s beginning to feel like we’ve come full circle, as we’re right back at being intentional. If you think this was cleverly planned, you’re giving me too much credit.
As I’ve shared before, writing these weekly posts is a major way for me to process my thinking, and this post is a perfect example.
You can, in fact, intentionally work on being less aggressive, and it starts with being conscious of one’s actions and how they are being perceived by others.
Such consciousness and awareness isn’t always present, however. Some gentle, non-aggressive feedback can often be very valuable in such cases, assuming it’s welcome!