Friday, August 10, 2018

Job Crafting & Stretch Assignments - How to continue to learn

About a year ago, I started on a new professional path, committed to launching a new stage of my career, leaving behind the relative security of a full-time federal government contractor job for the freedom and uncertainty of consulting and teaching.  It was meant primarily as a learning journey. 

Growing and learning require stretching.  That stretching can get quite uncomfortable.  Every single thing I did over the past year was a stretch and therefore the level of discomfort was at times very palpable.  It helped (a little) that I knew this was likely to happen and I was somewhat prepared for it. 

Here are some things I've learned in the process:

  • While I often talked about this past year as a "Year of Learning", it was a form of learning that was meant to help me craft a path forward, not just learning for the sake of learning.    Specifically, I learned that while my initial expectations were to do 80% consulting and 20% teaching, the ratio was perhaps not the right one.  A 50/50 split might work out better. 
  • Stretching should not be confused with pushing oneself to the edge of burnout. In fact, overloading on work and getting overwhelmed only guarantees a decrease in "learning."  If it is impossible to set aside time to reflect on the job/assignment, then I can almost guarantee a lower quality output and no learning (other than not to do that again).
  • As I move forward and leave the idea of the "year of learning" behind, I will focus on the concept of job crafting for myself, which is easy as a self-employed consultant/part-time faculty.  I am writing my job description with a blank canvas.
  • I also want to continue integrating and combining my areas of expertise, looking for deeper insights as well as innovative solutions to stubborn challenges.