To grow your career: Create less crap. Be more awesome.

Success is preparation. As a result of preparation, we recognize opportunities when they come near, like old acquaintances, familiar with a lot of catching up to do.

Chase, Chancy and Creativity refers to this as Type III Chance:

Chance III involves a special receptivity, discernment, and intuitive grasp of significance unique to one particular recipient. Louis Pasteur characterized it for all time when he said: “Chance favors only the prepared mind.”

James H. Austin. Chase, Chance, and Creativity: The Lucky Art of Novelty (Kindle Locations 969-970). Kindle Edition.

Everyday your management and colleagues make decisions and buy and sell ideas in domains you can meaningfully contribute a valid (not reliable) perspective. Ultimately, these opportunities are “lost” because you weren’t invited to the dance.

Some see this as the way of the world. To be sure, you won’t be invited to every conversation (and if you were what a horrid use of your time).  But there is one way to ensure that over time you are being invited to more conversations of significance:

Be awesome.

Crap takes many forms; it is often disguised as an “urgent” request, a flooded inbox, or a Sisyphean task list that you have little say in developing and less say in discarding.

We’re intimately familiar with crap. It’s time to get more familiar with awesome.

Crap creates ephemeral value, awesome’s value is durable.

Crap is unnoticeable, no one knows when it was begun, and no one knows when its done. Awesome is tangible; awesome changes people, behaviors, and ways of thinking.

Crap is often a justifying activity-a C-Y-A, or J-I-C action. Awesome is designing a future state, be it one word, one action, or one pixel at a time.

Crap is the task, while awesome is the objective- fight to get responsibility for the objective, aim to minimize the task.

You master crap through repetitive action, and processes; awesome is not mastered, it is created through one progressive action after another.

Crap begets crap while awesome is constructivist.

If you find yourself, not involved in areas where you can meaningfully contribute. Track what you are working on for a few days. Are you creating crap or are you being awesome?

Are you creating crap or are you being awesome?

If you see a lot of waste, there is a simple solution. You need to develop an allergic reaction to it. You have to learn to recognize it before happens to you. Organize your day around the goal, suggest alternatives to the meaningless, and ask your manager or colleague to clarify: “what value is this task creating?” or you might just solve the problem through some other means: Person A meet Person B, Person B has it from here.

There is one caveat. When you successfully redress your priorities and minimize the your “task list”, you have to—be—awesome.

Awesome cannot be ignored for any sustained period of time…

When you get there and you’re creating awesome, don’t worry if things don’t instantaneously change. Awesome is magic that way. It cannot be ignored for any sustained period of time, adhere to the principle of progress and continue to move forward.

Lastly, you’ll note from the diagram that crap is more role oriented, while awesome is a career investment. Does this mean that it’s wrong to focus only on delivering in your role?

In my opinion, yes. You must outgrow your existing role; your next role is predicated upon it. By investing in your career, your performance in your current role will increase—and you’ll get new opportunities to be more awesome.

This posts defines: what is awesome, expounding on the 52awesomethings challenge.

about the author

Mikal is a reformed startup CEO and experienced Product Executive based in Austin, TX. After years leading product teams at Microsoft, Nordstrom and most recently VP of Product at RetailMeNot, he now serves as a product coach helping teams in growing tech markets work their way up The Product Team Ladder.

subscribe (it’s free)

I’ve been writing business notes since 2005 (as notsocommoncents) – join my newsletter, sent every Tuesday, to read notes for the week on topics that go beyond the daily news cycle, plus any new blog posts.

You should sign up – and hear about an awesome thing each week.

Thank you for joining.

One thought on “To grow your career: Create less crap. Be more awesome.

Comments are closed.