If you always do what you have always done then you always get what you always got. -Stuart Crabb, Director of Learning at Facebook
Had the chance to spend time with Stuart at an intimate conference last week. Facebook has invested alot of time and effort to craft a learning culture at FB, from which we can learn a few things. Stuart went through the following myths that FB helps its employees overcome. Myths that can stifle career growth, mentoring, personal and professional development.
- I can learn most from those with more experience than me. --I learn from everyone around me. Age and tenure are not the only determinants of wisdom and relevance.
- Excellence is defined by what I know and what I can do well.-- excellence is defined by my strengths and what I ship-- not my efforts but what I deliver. Hone your uniqueness, your talents, and your strengths to set yourself apart.
- Effective learning is in books and classrooms.--Being more open to continuous education, than just formal education will make you smarter. Small bites of real time learning on the job are most powerful.
- My performance review helps me stay on track and grow.--Annual reviews are archaic and too late. To grow and adapt you seek real time feedback and frequent feedback on your strengths and weaknesses.
- Progression in my company and industry is vertical and logical.--Career development is more like a jungle gym than a ladder. You have to take risks and follow your heart. You have to gain lateral experiences to move up.
The greatest skills are adaptability, flexibility, and resilience. Key skills for the jungle gym and the jungle of your career choices and experiences. No way to predict the future. No way to have certainty about your life. You will make mistakes. You will ascend and descend. You will fall. You will get back up. The questions are: How much do you learn through change? Do you lose or gain momentum at each of these junctures?
I use to say that career development was more like Super Mario Bros, which shows you how dated, but yet relevant this analogy still is. The idea of jumping on and off of platforms. The courage to take chances on your passions. The concept of risk/reward. To have the resources, skills and "weapons" to overcome the obstacles, challenges and changes that are thrown in front of you.
I like Crabb's jungle gym as a much better metaphor for life and career. It is more playful and accessible. It gives you a complete visual for the options you have. That there are many ways to successfully climb and enjoy your journey.
There is always someone who tries to go straight to the top. Some go up and down the slide. Others who look for creative and challenging routes and experiences. All of these paths are real and legitimate, as long as you do not believe that a linear path is your only route, it never is. Like the MD who is required to do "internships" on all aspects of medicine and the body before specializing. Having breadth and depth of knowledge and experience will always help you transfer those skills. And taking a less direct to the top enables you to discover your strengths and passions. We all know people who rise too quickly and fall just as fast.
I meet people all of the time who want to run for-profit and non-profit organizations with little or no expertise except confidence and ambition. Real confidence comes from learning and understanding how things work.
Jump on the jungle gym and explore it and see where it takes you. Have fun and discover who you are. Literally and figuratively learn the ropes and steps led by your passions. Then you will define the jungle gym instead of it defining you.
Thanks for reading. John