Unconventional Workshop 7
1) Foster curiosity
2) Initiate activity
3) Gain relevant information
4) Discover possibilities
6) Commit to a project
7) Create ideas
8) Realize ideas
9) Test ideas, find success or failure
10) Use failure as a platform for new and better ideas
11) Repeat part or all of the process
12) Eventually, find achievement
Bonus – Ultimately, gain some level of mastery
Experts (often) work for free.
Activity for results
Activity, from a career perspective, is a big deal. It is being punched-in, it is game-on. It is the time when we earn the money that affords our lives. Not everyone gets paid directly for their activity. Straight commission salespeople get paid for their results. This means closing the deal. From an employer perspective, it is the results that are important. Even if compensation is per-hour, the employer is really interested in the accomplishments that come from those hours.
Activity is cumulative
For a company, resulting achievements from worker activity eventually translates to profitability. Some resulting achievements will be more valuable than others, so the compensation associated with types of activity will vary. Within the workforce, value of activity is usually associated with the accumulation of activity, where past activity adds skills, knowledge and/or responsibility to current activity. This includes both training and work experience. If a worker attended college for several years to learn their skill, the accumulation of their past and present activity will usually translate to improved resulting achievements and higher compensation. If a worker has many years of work experience, the accumulation of their past and present activity will usually translates to improved resulting achievements and higher compensation. With work experience, the predictability of achievements is also taken into consideration, as a worker becomes proven. A proven worker is often considered more responsible, as there is a higher chance that they will successfully hold responsibility. Companies are often criticized for not taking a chance on workers who have limited experience. In truth, there is a real risk and risks can be costly.
General rule of compensation:
Activity = results = compensation
Professionals and skilled trades workers:
Past activity (advanced education) + current activity (skilled work) = cumulative results = increased compensation
Accumulating work history improves resulting achievements and predictability of achievements:
Past activity (work experience) + current activity (experienced work) = cumulative results = increased compensation
Straight commission professional salesperson (unfruitful week):
Current activity (skilled work within sales process) = no results = no compensation
Straight commission professional salesperson (fruitful week):
Past activity (skilled work within sales process) + current activity (skilled work within sales process) + future activity (closed sale) = cumulative results = increased compensation
If activity accumulates and people can make more money by accumulating activity in the form of skills, knowledge and/or responsibility, why don’t more people perform activities outside of their careers that will directly help them within their careers?
Unconventional Experts are like everyone else within the workforce, in that their compensation is based on activity and resulting accomplishments. Like everyone else within the workforce, their activity is cumulative. Unconventional Experts, however, jump to activity as it exists within their individual work-process.
Past activity (individual work-process) + current activity (individual work-process) = cumulative results = increased compensation
Free time work time
Activity is cumulative. All activities that advance skills and knowledge within a career will accumulate and there will eventually be resulting achievements and higher compensation. If activity is cumulative both on-the-clock and off-the-clock, doesn’t in take sense to do both? On-the-clock, workers should seek flexibility within their positions, to designate time towards the advancement of skills and knowledge, for the purpose of improving resulting achievements. After hours, workers should designate time towards the advancement of skills and knowledge, for the purpose of improving resulting achievements.
Why is it that people pay to go to school, but the moment they enter the workforce, they want to get paid for everything that they do. Activity is cumulative and activity that lends to learning will eventually pay off.
Motivational materials and activity
Motivational materials often promote activity. Since activity is required to gain resulting achievements, this makes sense. Most motivational materials, however, fail to provide specifics on the type of activity. Are the activities repeatable work habits? Are the activities structured, repetitive, task-oriented and company process-driven? Are the activities unstructured, complex, creativity-driven, strategy-dependent and project-oriented?
Some motivational materials are based on competition; if all goes well, you win and someone else loses. Within a company, all activity is competitive, to some degree, as the company competes with other companies within the marketplace. When winning is sighted as the reward, for motivational purposes, there is always a risk of losing, which isn’t very motivational. For most people, losing is devastating and the move to activity afterwords can take a herculean lift. For the Unconventional Expert, failure is simply a part of the individual work-process and the activity needed to overcome failure is no different than the activity needed within other parts of the individual work-process. Jumping back into the game is not necessary if you never left.
Watching a professional football quarterback, it always look like they are trying to win the game. Usually they are focused on getting the first down. Within their individual work-process, they look for holes and weaknesses in the wall of player who are trying to stop them. Strategy plays a big role in their individual work-process. They create ideas, test ideas and fail. They call a play, run a play and fall short. They use failure as a platform for new and better ideas. They call new plays based on information they gleaned from their failed plays. As competitive as football is, the quarterback’s activities are made up of nuances that follow their individual work-process. As much strength as it takes to win a football game, it is the discovering of possibilities that initiates each play.
Motivation and initiating activity
Jumping to activity within a work environment can be met with a range of emotions. We can be anxious, in a positive way, or have anxiety, in a negative way. Jumping into a repetitive work habit is usually an easier jump, as there are few surprises. Jumping into difficult work takes a presence of mind, eyes-wide-open; a jump into a cold lake. It is not always easy to find motivation, let alone self-motivation; when no one is there to provide a nudge. For Unconventional Experts, activity is self-motivated by curiosity and possibilities. Jumping into activity is jumping into all of the steps within the individual work-process.
Trust the process
When facing a new problem, one faces the unknown and thus experiences a certain amount of anxiety. The saying, trust the process, also includes the individual work-process. When an Unconventional Expert faces a new problem, it will help to trust the process. Having faith within the individual work-process will redirect energy from anxiety to activity.
Sometimes … simply activity
When one loses their job and must look for another, the best piece of advice is to focus on activity. Within a work environment, people gain momentum within their repetitive work habits. When that routine abruptly stops, their career can look like it has been flipped upside down. As quickly as possible, the new activity becomes looking for a new job. Certainly, a well written resume is crucial and strategy will be needed, but beyond that, activity needs to be a top focus. Activity means taking one’s information regarding availability for new employment and spreading it appropriately into the job market.
Sometimes a good starting point is simply activity. As activity progresses, the direction of movement can advance.
Sideshow activity is when people do legitimate work, however, they don’t face their challenges head-on. Instead, they choose to do work that is not at a top priority. Sideshow activity exists when people hold ideal expectations regarding their own capabilities and feel that any resulting achievements that fall short of this ideal will seed disappointment in others. To resolve this conundrum, they perform activity within a sideshow that will appease their need for activity. They do gain results, however, their resulting achievements fall far short of their intended goals. They move slowly, in a safe direction, that can be best described as busy avoidance.
A good way to see if one is lost in a sideshow activity is to look at the work that that is being performed, as it would be performed within an unconventional position. Is the activity structured, repetitive, task-oriented and company-process-driven when it should be unstructured, complex, creativity-driven, strategy-dependent and project-oriented?
Avoiding sideshow activity is subtractive. First, we must remove any and all ideal expectations we place upon our own capabilities. If we believe that we have already arrived at an ideal, without having the bravery to test our ideas, we will only find disappointment in imminent failure. Secondly, we need to remove our belief that our resulting achievements are ultimately measured by others. The job is the boss, the customers are the boss; onlookers and spectators are irrelevant. The less we care about how others judge us, the more we can focus on high priority activities that meet our challenges head-on.
Free time activity, within hobbies, arts, crafts, DIY home improvements, connoisseurship, inventions and disciplines show characteristics of Unconventional Experts. If one can be an Unconventional Expert within their free time, they can benefit from it within their career.
Free time or activity?
Entertainment is a popular free time activity. It is important that workers understand the difference between work activity and free time activity. The internet puts both information and entertainment at our fingertips and it is very easy to fall onto entertainment when seeking information. Just as the jump to activity can take some motivation, maintaining motivation takes tenacity. In the age of the smart phone, it is more difficult than ever before to stay focused on work related activities. With smart phones, we can quickly jump into free time activity, before time is actually free. Taking breaks is a necessary part of work, however, we need to make certain that work and breaks are balanced and entertainment falls on free time.
When commitments are attached to activity, it is the activity that will communicate the commitment, not words. People don’t always do what they say they will do. Trust activity.
Workshop 7 questions:
1) Name an everyday career task that easily pushes you to activity?
2) Name an everyday career task that does not easily motivate activity?
3) Between the above two examples, what are the curiosity differences?
4) Between the above two examples, what are the differences in resulting possibilities?
5) With this exercise, do you feel that curiosity and resulting possibilities motivate you to move forward with activity?
UnconventionalEXPERTS is a free career resource created by Martin Haslinger.
© 2023 Martin Haslinger