by J.B. Wood
I recently spent a couple of hours thinking about my job instead of actually doing it.
I mulled over the current state of affairs at work, my priorities, my recent accomplishments, where my time is being spent, and so on.
I guess you could say I was reflecting.
To some of you, this may sound like a colossally assinine waste of time, but self-reflection is actually one of the defining qualities of a high-performance leader. Which I am attempting to be, and I hope you are too.
We get so busy in the frenzy, so lost in the propulsion and swirl of daily activity, it becomes difficult to find the time to step back and ask a few fundamental questions of ourselves about what it is we are actually doing, and if it is effective.
Carving out time and space for self-reflection allows you to step back, ask a few questions about your own job performance, and hopefully keep you one step ahead of the curve.
Here is a simple self-reflection exercise you can use to evaluate your own job performance. It involves gauging your work against three criteria.
1. Are you meeting the expectations of your job? Look at the basic expectations set out for your job. It may be outlined in a job description somewhere, or a to-do list, or a bucket of responsibilities. Make sure you know what this is. Are you living up to it? Are you delivering on these minimum expectations? If so, don’t get too excited yet, because no boss wants people who are doing only the minimum. That’s not going to get you a promotion or even keep you in the employment pool these days. You need to do more.
2. What else could you be doing that no one else could do? There are probably things not in your current job description that are things that you could be, or should be doing…because you bring a unique set of skills and experience to the table. This is where you can add value, bring new insights, big ideas, or just plain get more stuff done. There are two things every company expects you to do: save money and generate revenue. What are you doing to contribute above and beyond what is expected of your job?3.What are others’ perceptions of what you should be doing? The key word here is “perception,” because in the corporate world, perception is what forms reality. This is a little more subtle, but essential to understand. It’s far too easy to operate isolated in our own personal bubble of responsibility, when what may be far more important for your career is to understand what the boss, the VIPs, the executives-in-the-know think about what you should be doing. If you have a disconnect here, then it might not matter how well you perform in the realm of your job description. Find out what others are thinking. Set an appointment with your boss, with your peers, and get feedback. Check in with the most important people you know to make sure you are in alignment with their expectations.
So now that you are self-reflective, stop all that thinking and get out there and make something happen!
Performance vs Potential
The gap between performance and potential is far from neutral. On the positive side, it inspires. Think of the young professional who sees her future self in a seasoned colleague and dreams of achieving great things for God. Optimism and drive mark this view. On the negative side, however, the gap can be as haunting as it is illusory. Haunting because it confirms just how much we come up short; illusory because the gap tortures us with false truths about rank and value. For those who suffer the latter, even Jesus’ promise to be sufficient in our weakness goes unheard.
In The High Calling series on Performance vs. Potential, we’re taking an honest look at both perspectives. Will you join us? Whether you’re a dreamer seeking growth, or a doubter seeking peace, we believe you’ll be encouraged by what you read.