Read and listen to previous parts of the series:
- Introduction: The 7 Skills of a Successful Careerist
- 1. Organization
- 2. Communication
- 3. Troubleshooting
- 4. Empathy
While having a deep knowledge of the world around you is incredibly important in your career, even more important is a deep self-knowledge of your strengths, weakness, wants, needs, and desires. You must know what you want out of your life and career, what you know, what you don’t know and the difference between them. It is only in this way that you can make the best decisions for yourself and your own, unique career. Otherwise, you will be susceptible to control by others or even arrogant about your own knowledge and skills.
Now available exclusively to Career Opportunities readers and Listeners.
Knowing what you don’t know
If your experiences are like mine, you will meet many people in your life who suffer from the fact of not knowing what they don’t know. They assume mastery in nearly every context and, even when proven wrong, they will still insist they are right and more knowledgeable than those around them. Not only are these people difficult, if not outright annoying, they also hamper their own career and the careers of those around them. They can bring failure to everything and everyone they touch, without ever acknowledging their own part in that failure. They can even successfully deflect any blame for their failures and end up placing that blame on their co-workers while they continue to rise in an organization. Recognize these people, and this behavior, in your own career and minimize your contact with these people.
While you can certainly be proud of your own knowledge, knowing when to ask for help, do more research, and take advice from others is invaluable. You don’t have to fight all the battles yourself. Take advantage of the wide range of skills and information that are easily available today. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. It is a sign of great self-knowledge and maturity and can only help to further your career greatly. People will come to understand that you have a dedication to learning instead of assuming that you know everything already – which is impossible for anyone. There is no need to be a know-it-all in your career, but being a learn-it-all can make you invaluable wherever you might work.
Knowing what you want
Another deeply important aspect of self-knowledge is knowing what you want out of your life and career. Too often, we allow life to push us from one job to another, one relationship to another, without much thought has to how it will effect our life and work. Taking the time, each day, to contemplate what you want, what you are trying to accomplish and where you want to be in 1, 5, 10 years is critical to your overall happiness and mental health. There will be times in your life and career when you will have to decide between what is best for your career and what is best for you, personally. At these time, we can often make errors in our judgement, because we put our career, our family, our ego ahead of our own wants, needs and desires. This is when our thinking, and our careers, can quickly go astray. Sure, that new job in management might benefit your wallet or your ego, but it could also make you very, very unhappy, if you don’t desire the more fundamental changes it will bring with it. Think deeply whether new changes align properly with your own wants, needs and desires, or you could be setting yourself up for a dramatic and painful failure.
It isn’t difficult to gain and maintain self-knowledge, but you must first realize how important it is to your overall career happiness and success. Once you make this realization, you will immediately see those occasions when you ignored your own desires or didn’t consider what effect your actions would have on those desires. Yes, it can feel easier to ignore the big issues in your life and resist the deep thinking they require, but I can guarantee they will still be present and active in your life. They will still deeply effect your life and career, whether you pay attention to them or not. How much better could your career be if, instead of ignoring these issues, you gave them the attention they require. What if you did the deep thinking required to direct yoru career instead of simply letting it happen to you? If you seek deep self-knowledge, I believe that rather than being a hinderance, these issues could be the building blocks of the career you deserve.