In the quest to come up with something cogent to share with other working and aspiring speakers at the recent PublicWords Forum, I reflected on my own career path so far. (See my previous post)
The principles that I unearthed from my own experience are, I believe, things that all of us should pay attention to in any line of work: speakers, writers, accountants, lawyers, teachers, tradespeople, whatever. If you want to lead in your field, if you want to stand out, make a difference, earn an excellent reputation and succeed financially, too, then pay attention to the following.
If, however, work is just a way for you to fill in time between weekends, and you have no other outlet for your passions, use this as a way to re-think things, and see where it takes you.
These ideas are still forming and growing. For today, I’ll describe them in brief and give you a chance to ponder them. Later, I’ll describe how they’ve played out for me, and we’ll explore in more detail how you can apply them, too.
It all starts with your…
Burning Desire to Excel in Your Field. Your love for your work is the juice, the raw material and ultimately the energy that will drive you to do great things. Without your heart, you’ll just be going through the motions. Maybe significant motions, but just motions nonetheless.
Hone Your Chops. Take every opportunity you can to practice your craft, deepen your knowledge and broaden your experience.
Develop Your Own Point of View. After you’ve had a good amount of experience, and you’ve learned what the experts in your field have to say, start to ask yourself this very powerful question: “What do I think about all this?” or “If I could flip a magic switch and make everything in my field different, what would change?”
Build Your Body of Work (BOW). We normally think of an author as having a body of work, but it’s true for all of us. Every tangible bit of work you do relating to your field becomes part of your BOW. Your experience, articles (and/or books) you’ve written, your digital footprint, speeches you’ve given and panels you’ve participated in, projects you’ve led or contributed to. Even the relationships you’ve developed and nurtured. All of it. The common thread throughout is your point of view, your perspective, your voice. That’s what makes your BOW unique.
Consciously create your BOW, and expand it throughout your career. Amplify and broadcast it. Share it with as many people as possible. And if it happens that your BOW is compelling, inspiring and useful to others, it will not only set you apart, but it will create the need–the pull–for your services as a professional.
What is your Body Of Work so far? How does it demonstrate, communicate and reflect your point of view?
And that’s not a rhetorical question.
I like these four ideas and especially the BOW. I think what was hard for me at the beginning is when my BOW was so small that it felt like climbing a mountain to build it to the point that I could show it to someone and not have them say “And that is it?”. After 7 years of plugging away, running a blog, writing articles and cases for Business School it now appears decent… and other ask “how did you do all that?”. How do we motivate more people to take the first few steps… it then becomes self sustaining.
Steve Farber says
In the grand scheme of things, 7 years really isn’t all that long, Conor (it went by fast, didn’t it?). Imagine how much broader and deeper you’re BOW will be 7 more years from now.
There is a Chinese proverb “The best time to start was ten years ago. The second best time to start is now.” Here's to the next 7…
For all my career, I've had multiple businesses, multiple directions. A bit of an economic necessity for a small town. But in the last few years, I've been trying to find how they all fit together. I had the feeling that I could find a way to make my body of work make sense. I got close when I redid my business plans for the year. Then right after SOBCon, I spent three days on retreat. And I got it. I still have more than one business (four, actually), but I have a purpose and a direction that makes sense, that builds on my body of work. I cannot tell you how different that feels!
Steve Farber says
Thanks for that, Becky. You’re a shining example for the rest of us!
Both authentic and practical – the BOW rings true for me. BTW Greater Than Yourself is a great book to give to audiences
Steve Farber says
Well…I certainly have no objections to that, Kare!
Very nice post. I am a tester, I believe I am a passionate one and I don't believe the label is important. There are common traits to be good in every domain and your list points to some of them.