These days, many people would like to progress quickly, get to the next level as fast as possible or use as many short cuts as available to get them there but here is the thing…
Life is not a video game and short cuts do not usually provide lessons for growth.
Building a good foundation or in other words ‘your roots’ for life is very important. You can look at it as a metaphor for building a particular skill set you need to become who you want to be professionally. These ‘roots’ can be seen as the core skills that are relevant. But you can also look at your Doctorate studies or your Post-doc as a way of building the next level of your house. A strong foundation and good roots are important as otherwise as you continue to build your house higher, it could collapse if your foundations are not strong enough meaning you would need to rebuild from the ground up.
When you decide to do something new and perhaps challenging (e.g. do a triathlon, start a PhD), work on a particular activity (e.g. design a series of new workshops, write a conference paper) or decide on your next career step – find out as much as possible about what you need to bring with you to the ‘starting line’. What are the qualities, skills, experiences and mindset that this work requires? (you might already have some of them!) Then go and get them through part-time work, training, volunteering, project work, teaching, workshop organisation, joining groups of like-minded people or reading, so that you acquire new knowledge.
Prepare yourself as best as you can – it is this preparation that builds a foundation for you – something you can always go back to as the core which will give you confidence. Through preparation questions will come up and that means that you are learning and exploring. There are many people around you who would be happy to answer them to support your growth. And if you ever decide to build a different ‘house’ – you can extend the core – the foundation of what you have already built. You will then keep developing your skills while doing.
If you know that there is a certain skill that is important for your work (or for getting to the next level and being promoted) and you are not good at it or confident enough look for opportunities to practice it. At the beginning, it might appear scary because you will be taken out of your comfort zone but it’s the only way to progress. For example, if you need teaching experience the only real way of getting it is by teaching. For a start, you can get advice from others or assist somebody during their seminar delivery, so you get a feel for it but eventually you will need to teach your own class and that’s when you learn the most. You learn by doing. You will also naturally develop your own style and your own signature.
Build a good foundation for everything you do. Spend time on developing your skills and devote time to what makes you better. You will be stronger and more confident for it and as a result you will also inspire others.
What level of ‘your house’ are you building at the moment?
Is there anything that needs to be strengthened in ‘your foundation’? If you need any support with it get in touch!