My grandfather was an electrician and my father was a diesel mechanic. I am neither an electrician nor a mechanic. I use two things: duct tape and WD-40, what cannot be solved with one is solved with the other. Okay, occasionally I use a hammer…
I do have my own set of tools, a jigsaw, sawsaw (that’s what I call it), circular saw, table saw, levels, socket set, wire cutters and lots of other toys. I can use each one, although I do not have mastery of any.
This was quite obvious in a recent project.
I was changing out electrical outlets and light switches in all the rooms in my home from the almond to white. I love the white, so clean and fresh! I followed all the appropriate steps: turned off breakers, ensured no power to each item, had my wire cutters, flat head and Philips screw drivers and new switches/outlets.
I did pretty well, actually getting on a roll. I learned how to change plug in from the back to screw in to the side outlets and light switches. I made sure to put the wires in the new reciprocals exactly as they were in the old ones. I am woman, hear me roar!
I roared alright, right after only one of the three light switches worked in both bathrooms. Are you kidding me? I did it exactly as it was before – what happened?
What happened is I am not an electrician. That’s what happened.
My boyfriend provides gentle reminders that I am not a mechanical wizard. I will be working on a project and he will come up, in the most gentle and respectful way, and say, “Here honey, let me help.”
This is code for “good lord girl, let me take this over before you blow up the house.”
Do you know how frustrating it is to struggle with something for a half an hour and have someone come up and complete it in thirty seconds? Very. Very, very, very frustrating.
But here is the thing – I am not an electrician or a mechanic. My boyfriend pretty much is. Those are his strengths, not mine. The reason we work so well together is that we appreciate and recognize each other’s strengths – and weaknesses. We are that weird couple that actually enjoy finding and doing projects together.
We cannot individually be all things to each other in our relationship. He is the time/calendar structured person that can herd cats in a single bound and accomplish more in one day than most people can in a week. I am the creative, communicative, go with the flow, “flower child” as he calls me that adapts easily to whatever is thrown in the path and finds a way to make those lemons into garnishes for mojitos.
We also have similar qualities that work well: we are independent, driven, family oriented, big picture, very sarcastic, appreciate the moment kind of people. We are a true partnership and it works very, very well for us.
Your career is a series of relationships.
You may have one that your partner does nothing but take from you and never supports your needs or goals. You may have one that they are unfaithful, giving all the best opportunities to someone else. Another might be a great learning experience, with them teaching you more about yourself than you knew. Eventually you find partnerships that allow you to contribute and receive, fulfilling your needs and goals and theirs.
There are two key factors to any relationship. The first is knowing who you are, what you like, what you want, what you will accept and what you will not.
The second is knowing your strengths and weaknesses. What can you give, what can you not, what are you willing to learn to be able to give and what are you not. These things change as you grow older and experience different situations, environments and relationships.
Remember, during each phase of your career – each relationship – it is your choice. You are never stuck anywhere. If it does not suit you it is not your obligation or requirement to stay just to make someone else happy. This makes you miserable and as such you cannot possibly give your greatest gifts to others.
If I were to give one piece of advice it would be this: be selfish. We have put such a negative connotation to being selfish. Oh, you will hear others tell you that you should think of others, that you are being selfish. What they are really saying is that you should not think of yourself, you should think of them.
You deserve to be selfish, it is a requirement! I mean selfish in a way of taking care of yourself. Define what makes you happy, pamper yourself by unplugging and enjoying only what it is that you enjoy doing. To get really flower child on you – until you learn to love yourself, how can you love anyone else?
Until you know your strengths, how can you provide real value to others? Until you know your weaknesses how can you appreciate and ask for them from others? Knowing yourself is a matter of respect. You learn to respect your strengths and learn to appreciate the strengths of others that happen to be your weaknesses.
Each relationship, each job or team, is a balance of individual strengths and weaknesses, respect and honor. When you find that balance between yourself, others and the relationships you know you have found a winner.
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I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:
Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility
Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.
Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at colleges, professional organizations and companies around the US speaking to leadership, sales and athletic teams; transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.