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Home > Audio, Podcast, Show > Hitting the Bulls-eye – Podcast

Hitting the Bulls-eye – Podcast

April 1st, 2011

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Over the last several months my son and I have been increasingly active in archery at our local range with our local SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) group. We enjoy being outdoors and the camaraderie of archery, as well as challenging ourselves to improve our skills over time. During our hours at the range, comparisons between archery and your career have been coming to mind quite a bit. There is one analogy that I haven’t been able to shake so I felt it deserved presenting here.


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Transcripts of Live Speaking Engagements Now Available

You can now purchase complete text transcripts of some of my longer, live speaking engagements directly from the Career Opportunities web site.

Click the Products link at the top of the page for a complete list.

The first item I am making available is a transcript from my talk, Production, Promotion and Being Proactive in Your Career

When you are on the archery range your goal is typically to become better and better at your aim. The archery target presents a clear goal and clear feedback after each shot. If only our career was so forthcoming with feedback. Archery is a challenge of constant correction and adaptation. If you want to improve, you carefully evaluate each shot, what you did, and the results it produced. After some time you will find that your muscle memory will begin to kick in and it becomes easier and easier to hit the bulls eye consistently.

This is exactly what you want to do with your career. You want to notice the work you are doing, and how you are doing it, and then actively try to repeat those successes again and again. If you aren’t paying attention, though, it is very difficult to improve. You continue to make the same mistakes over and over. On the archery range this only effects your score, but in your career it can severely limit your success.

No manager wants an employee that fails to learn either from their successes or their failures. They expect you to grow more adept at your job. They might even try to help you grow. Don’t ignore their advice and assistance any more than you might ignore the advice of the former Olympic archery coach that volunteers at our range. If people are offering to help it is only wise, and polite, to listen.

There is another flaw I see on the range that can also be seen our careers. Getting better and better at hitting the wrong spot on the target is just as useless as missing the target entirely. The bulls eye is your goal, not some other area of the target. You may group all your arrows perfectly around one area, but if that area isn’t closest to the center it is a wasted effort. Unfortunately, this is often what we do in our jobs. We get better and better at doing something that matters less and less.

Producing perfect paperwork might be admirable, but it often misses the target of actually completing productive work. Re-arranging the server room can be useful, but is a waste of time if the network is down. In these examples, you are hitting the target, yes, but you are often far away from the bulls-eye. Focus on that spot too long and you might just find yourself out of a job, despite years of dedicated work — dedicated, but off-target.

When you are working, you need to pay attention to a number of factors:

  • Are you learning with each shot, each task, each project? Can you correlate the results with the actions you took? What can you improve/change next time to get closer to the career bulls-eye?
  • Are you shooting for the target or shooting for the bulls-eye? Are you getting better and better at doing less and less important work? Are you consistently hitting the wrong part of the target?

In the heat of our day-to-day work we often lose sight of the target. We are so concerned with shooting as fast as possible that we start to ignore how we are shooting and where our shots are falling. When we are scrambling like this, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to improve no matter what we are trying to accomplish. Just as in archery, you have to slow down, control your breathing and think about each shot before you loose the arrow. Only then can you work your way closer to the career bulls-eye.


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