4 Things I learned this week

This week I had the opportunity to represent a group on a radio show, deliver my first worldwide lecture at HP, listen to a conference on Leadership, share with hundreds of youth people at a Catholic event, and discuss with my wife about handling difficult conversations at work. As I rest thinking about the journey, this is what I learned. 


It is not about me – working as part of a team does not come easy. A good intention for starters could be to perform individually as best as possible so the team benefits from that. The drawback on that approach is that it is self-centered. If you want to achieve best performance you must switch the focus: you must face the fact that it is not always about you. No matter how much we love to fool ourselves, or even how good we really are; we are not the center of the universe. There is little or nothing we can do alone. We depend on a team to work, to research, to play, to build a family, or even to do business. 

So it is critical to stop competing against those around you and start cooperating with them. You should invest time knowing those on your team: What skills do they excel at? What duties are a challenge for them? And for you? In this way you can align and manage the work by taking advantage of your combined strengths, and covering each other’s backs on what does not come easy for someone. A big plus on this approach is that powerful feeling when a task comes and you say, OK I take this one. Next one is yours. Knowing that anyone on your team is able to perform as well as you are. 

A work well done – from time to time we may be tempted to work out our careers on the fast track. Trying to spot any shortcuts or jumps whenever available. However the only true critical activity to ensure career progress, is to do a job well done. Every time you get an assignment. You can start thinking more strategically, you can define where you may want to be, you can develop your influence, you can network and meet new people to help you get there. 

Nevertheless you must ensure that you are not neglecting the true scope of your work. No matter how good you are at building an image, you build it on top of whatever you do. If this is not the case, you may fool some people some of the time. But you won’t be able to fool all people all the time. 

If it is the first time you are delivering certain activity, do not fear asking for feedback about it. Take your time to polish your product or your service. Show your appreciation to the people which gave you the task or to your mentors by working diligently to add their pertinent recommendations to your job. 

Building a Legacy – I mentioned on a previous post the responsibility we have with people that come after us in their journeys. That responsibility is inherently related with legacy. That’s what we are going to leave behind us whenever we pass away. 

There is this temptation to think that such things are saved only for the folks on the magazines or on the altars. Quite to the contrary, we need to ask ourselves about that responsibility and we need to deliberately look forward to build something useful with it. 

Leadership demands – many times we find ourselves in positions when we have a clear vision of how things should be, but our influence to turn that vision into a reality is limited. How to act as a positive leader in such situations?

Initially challenge your own vision and your position, do not take it for granted just because it came from you. That’s a bias. However if you are positive about the way you envision things, determine which are the right forums to raise your case and dare to do it. Just because you find your influence limited, do not make that a pretext to avoid its exercise. That’s by leadership, by principle. 

Also make sure that the any other positions or visions on the matter are also properly discussed and questioned. If there are biases on those positions, stand up and point it out. Also make sure that you don’t let the conversation turn into an us against them kind of skirmish. If you got to have a difficult conversation, then make sure that you are having the right difficult conversation. Do not forget to be hard on issues and soft on people. 

Till next week, 

- Sergio Calvo.

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