I’ve been thinking a lot about what we learn in school – not the facts we memorize, but the message we absorb about what will earn us gold stars, what will bring success.
In school we are taught to please the teacher, but to do anything significant as adults we have to be comfortable with pleasing some audiences and drawing criticism from others.
In school you are taught to absorb a lot of new information, but to play big in your career you have to trust what you already know.
In school you are taught to perfect your work as much as possible, but to play big in your career you have to put things out in the world that are messy and very imperfect – to beat the competition, to get going, and to get the feedback to improve.
A lot of women get stuck bringing the “good girl” skills they used to succeed in school into their work lives. But the things that helped us get such good grades in school don’t take us to the top in our careers.
Is this playing out in your career?
Are you still assuming your job is to please every teacher-like authority figure around? Let me free you up: the truth is that now, some of them being threatened by you, and some not getting what you are up to, is actually a sign of you doing great work.
Are you still thinking that the way to ensure success is to research that new idea to death (or keep your mouth shut until you know more about it)? Or are you recognizing that success now comes from trusting what you already know, and leaping based on that?
Are you still trying to perfect your work as much as possible before sharing it – just as you diligently checked your work and revised and revised before handing in an assignment in school? The rules have changed. Now it is essential to get comfortable sharing imperfect, messy, in progress work – to brainstorm with colleagues, to be the first to propose it to your boss, or test it early on with potential customers.
What I keep seeing again and again is us good girls aren’t being so well-served by the diligence, obedience, and carefulness we learned in school. Blazing a bright trail in our careers – moving from “good worker bee” to “mover and shaker,” requires an entirely different set of muscles, skills, and ways of being than the ones we learned to get so good at in school.
To create trail-blazing careers, we need new skills in self-trust, risk-taking, leaping.
I’d love to know. Have you noticed that what worked so well for succeeding in school doesn’t take you where you want to go now?
Have you made the shift, or are you bringing your old ways of playing to the new game? If not, will you give your voice the glory it deserves and make the shift now?
What do you think? Tell me in the comments.