Shake It Up

By Penny Macias | January 14, 2016
Are you at the point in your career where you feel like you could just cruise through the day without much hassle? When you started your job you had to learn policies and procedures, as well as names and faces. At some point you learn the details and nuances and the majority of the day is predictable. If that's the case and you feel pretty comfortable, I have a suggestion for you. Shake it up and see what happens.

1. Read Something With a Different Point of View.
It makes sense to open a publication and read an article that shares breakthroughs in your industry or offers some new insight. However, when it comes to opinions on policies, people are drawn to reading something that aligns with what they already believe. Using that as the compass to select reading to help you grow professionally won't actually help you grow - it will perpetuate where you are currently.

You probably won't agree with the article, but your disagreement might be exactly what sparks an idea or gets you more excited about the work you're doing. You might even get inspired to research and write an article to disprove or discount the ideas offered by the author. At a minimum, you'll be more aware of opposing viewpoints.

2. Take On a Mentee.
This is no insult to young professionals, but mentoring young people can often be like raising children. They ask questions that seem silly after years of experience, such as, "Why does everyone do this? Why not do that?" I must admit I don't like a lot of questions simply because I don't know how to answer them well. I'm always frustrated when my initial answer is "Because." Mentees, like children, don't have the benefit of years of experience and life that you do. They deserve someone who cares to share knowledge with them so they can really ponder those questions.

Helping another grow in their professional career can be one of the most rewarding aspects of your work when you feel like you've mastered it all. It can always add a fresh perspective so you don't become one of those people stuck in a time warp reminiscing on the ways thing used to be, instead of getting work done in the "here and now."

3. Ask Yourself "Why?" Often.
If you don't have the opportunity or patience to take on a mentee, ask yourself the silly questions. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting you begin an existential quest to answer all the mysteries of the universe, but if you choose to do so I won't judge you.  What I'm suggesting is you don't move through your job blindly repeating steps that might not be necessary or might be obsolete and make your job harder than it should be.

Whatever you do, don't forget just how valuable you are to making an entire city run.  Cheers to a new year of public service!