Once in a previous life I built drystone walls and trail. It is satisfying work. Simon Lapington, a friend with whom I used to work titled an anthology of his poems “the Legend of True Labour“, and this resonates with me. The thing is that now when I walk past a garden wall or stone house cladding then I am drawn to a quick analysis. Form does indeed follow function and if a structure has true strength; as in the Menai Bridge from the last post, then it is is aesthetically pleasing. What I find is that I baulk at a lot of the stonework that I see, I am sorry but it is plain offensive. I was always taught that there is a simple rule when walling. One on two, two on one. When I see a straight line travelling through a wall I want to scream. Any child who has spent sufficient time with Lego knows that if blocks do not overlap then the structure is weak.
The thing that irks me is that people are paying good money for “professionals” to this kind of work. The other thing that makes me sad is that it is simply remedied. My apprenticeship with stone was served with large mentors who took no nonsense. It did not take me long to create the simple practice of laying one rock so that it sat on two others and making sure that it was tied down by having two rocks lie on it.
What I now realize is that this phenomena is rife in education as well. In our ever increasing need to train complex situations we are not training young people in the simple, yet foundational behaviors and skills that they need to do work successfully and efficiently. My mentors did not allow me to move forward untill I had the basics down. We are in such a hurry to reach high performance we often sabotage it.
So what are you going to do to make sure that you have the basics covered?
Last night I got to do what I love to do and am good at for the first time at a job I have been doing for nearly a year. The good news is that it was successful, then again why wouldn’t it be? I have been teaching experientially for over two decades and a lot of time, effort and thought has gone into developing the skills and techniques that I use to facilitate people’s learning.
My big take home point is that I came to the job wanting to do this; it was always my stated goal. I want to work in development for a big company whose values I admire so I came in at the ground floor to learn a business that I knew nothing about. That way I was able to learn what truly goes on, while having time to think of ways that I can apply the skills I have to the benefit of the company and people that work there. Now in many ways this has not been easy. I have often felt underutilized and there has been frustration at the amount of time that the process has taken.
Last night I realized why it had taken so long and this is a lesson I will carry with me. Following my hour with a newly forming mentor group, examining what it is to be a mentor through games, activities, laughter and reflection my manager came up to me. After thanking me she said she could not promise anything but she was going to make sure that other managers in the region new of my skill set and what we had accomplished that evening. Without being asked she had stated she was going to promote my talents. Now this amused me because for the last week I had been pondering the idea of attracting a champion and here was one manifesting herself effortlessly.
For nearly a year I have hidden my talent and while I have asked repeatedly for opportunities to demonstrate it, I have not been approaching it in the right way. I had not made sure that I had a mentor at work, I had not made sure that I had a champion for my worthy cause. Moving forward, I will make sure that people know what I can do for them. I will make sure that I demonstrate my skill set and I will find a person within the organization who has the rank to make things happen and who will benefit from what I have to offer. I will actively look for a champion and mentor?