I hope you’re having a wonderful summertime.
I’ve been on a hiatus. The past few weeks have been eventful for the Veggalam family. We managed to travel back from India with a viral fever and a stomach bug. We’re making the most of the last bit of the beautiful Seattle summer. Spending time near water has been one of our major activities between the jetlag, the recovery, and the hustle to make the most of the Summer.
This week I have a few quick thoughts for you instead of our usual deep dives.
A long time ago, I thought being a high performer was about having the perfect work ethics, a high IQ, and intense will-power to get things done.
You must’ve seen this in school and college - hard work and intelligence get rewarded with good grades and copious appreciation.
Does that hold in professional careers?
Maybe in the early stage of careers.
So, what’s the one thing that propels any high-performer forward at mid-career stages?
It’s not hard work or their IQ. Though those things matter. The bigger differentiator is:
Think about it.
It’s such a simple word. And seems like an obvious thing. But it’s challenging to come by.
You procrastinate. You get tied up in indecision and self-doubt. Not because you as a person lack confidence or will-power. It’s because you lack clarity. You lack clarity in why you’re doing what you’re doing, what you really want to do, and if what you’re doing is leading anywhere.
Clarity of values, goals, and purpose.
Why is Clarity so Hard?
Some of the eastern spiritual traditions have a lot to say about this. In fact, some entire paths are dedicated to inculcating clarity of mind - ChittaShuddi (Sanskrit term loosely translated as ‘Purity of Mind’).
I’m no spiritual Guru, but I can give you a rough idea from my understanding as a coach and as a student of a spiritual path.
Our minds are clouded with our past conditioning. Unmistakably, we project this conditioning to an imaginary future to secure our happiness.
The non-obvious fact is that we project this conditioning into our present!
Our conversations and in-the-moment decisions are based on this conditioning -
- What we SHOULD be doing based on what others are doing,
- Our self-judgment,
- Comparison, Envy, and Fear
- Our desire for happiness and our concepts of what can give that ultimate happiness.
And since we constantly try to predict our futures with what’s happening now, we put our current reality into that prediction.
Once we do this, we cut out all other possibilities.
For example, if you’re at a certain level, say L6 at your company (replace with the leveling system at your company), you’re always looking at the type of work that’ll take you to L7. So you argue for the scope of work that’ll take you there and discard all other pursuits that seem unimportant.
After all, ruthless prioritization is necessary for leadership, right?
That’s a clear example of how our minds work within the context we give it. We even rationalize our choices with nice-sounding leadership advice (ruthless prioritization in this case).
However, if only you take a step back from the context you’re in and think about the possibilities, you’ll find an entirely different world. Maybe you could get a position equivalent to L7 in a high-growth startup. Maybe you are capable of a Director position at another company. Maybe someone in your network is looking to fill a role that’s perfect for you. You never know unless you step out of your current context.
This can only happen when you dig into what’s important for you - Values, Goals, and Purpose.
Insight arises when we detach ourselves from the past and the future and zoom in on the current reality.
So, today I have two resources for you.
1. Career Clarity Worksheet
I have designed this worksheet to help you strip your current context and get you back to the basics of your career.
Block off an hour from your calendar, sit with the questions and contemplate on them. This will be a game-changer, I promise.
I have a love-hate relationship with Tim Ferris’s podcasts. Though they have insane value, they are so damn looong. Anyway, I listened to this podcast entirely (that’s saying something!), and I want to share with you the most crucial bit - conversation scripts for a manager.
We all know how hard conversations are necessary to get your team moving forward. Alisa Cohn here has turned this advice into practical scripts that you can use in everyday conversations at your job. Give this a listen from 02:03. I guarantee that your confidence to have hard conversations will go to the next level.
That’s a wrap for today. Hope you enjoyed this week's edition. Thoughts, comments, and questions? I’d love to hear back from you.
Wishing you a week of clarity!
PS: Did you know what’s on offer from me? If you're an emerging or experienced manager, here are the ways I can help you:
- Get CLARITY and get unstuck on that next crucial step in your career - A chance to hire me as your thinking partner and brainstorm it out for 90 minutes.
- Work 1:1 with me to get out of linear career growth and make a VERTICAL move
- Transform your leadership to get ready to climb the management ladder - Apply for a 6-month personal transformation journey