I recently returned from a vacation in Montana and spent time exploring Yellowstone – it was FANTASTIC!
Since we visited the park near the close of the season, the crowds were not as crazy as they are during the summer, but it seemed plenty crowded to me … that is if you saw the park via the car window!
The majority of the visitors to Yellowstone where exploring this great park by car and perhaps just got out at the designated “lookout points” or sites, like Old Faithful. It struck me as odd as you see only a fraction of this national treasure if you don’t get out of your vehicle.
My husband and I enjoy getting out and about in nature and enjoyed some great days of hiking. While on the trails, we only came across a handful of other people. Happily, we didn’t come across any bears, but were fortunate enough to be relatively close to bison, deer, elk and geese and saw a bald eagle soaring above us!
What got my attention was noticing ALL the beauty that so many people miss when their experience is behind glass vs. getting out in the park, off the paved roads. It’s like they were looking at the park via a snow globe vs. emerging themselves into the experience.
That prompted me to think about how this is often true in our work lives as well. We take the safe path – one that’s been traveled by many before us. It shows up in the following ways and suggests that people operate with an underlying fear-base:
- Delivering work in the same ways – sticking with the status quo
- Offering few new and innovative ideas
- Avoiding decisions or approaches perceived to be risky
- Going through the motions and simply checking the box
Continuing with my hiking analogy, we got the full-body experience while on the trails: strong headwinds, encounters with geyser and thermal pools, close encounters with 2,000 pound bison, steep elevation climbs, hearing and smelling nature’s elements, touching the rocks, trees, cold water, and wearing a canister bear spray!
I must say, I hiked with a heightened sense of awareness knowing I may come across animals that could eat me! That level of awareness and engagement made my experience so much more exciting and rewarding. I believe the same goes for how we engage in our work life.
To fully engage and experience a more rewarding career, may I make a few suggestions?
- Be willing to get out of your comfort zone. Take a few risks by applying for a new role, requesting to learn a new skill or taking on a highly visible project.
- Look for opportunities to improve efficiencies in your work area and propose to take on a process improvement project where you can collaborate with others in your department and across functional areas.
- Do some research on your own to discover ideas/approaches used by other industries and think about how to apply similar concepts to your current work.
- Be intentional about meeting new people inside and outside the company who you find interesting and engage in a conversation to learn more about them – when you are interested, you are interesting. Spending time with people outside your usual circle can be quite inspiring and may provide the spark needed to think about things in a different way.
I’ve always believed that with any experience, what you put into it is what you get out of it. Don’t be that person behind the glass! Get out there, dig in, get messy, jump in with both feet and an eager spirit!
I think you’ll find a rewarding career should offer a few thrills and is much more than a spectator sport!
Martha Duesterhoft if a Partner at PeopleResults. Follow her on Twitter @mduesterhoft or connect via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.