“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
– Marcus Aurelius
When we transited from the naivety, innocence and immaturity of University life and entered the workforce, we felt an amalgam of conflicting and confusing emotions. Scared, excited, worried and whatever.
We started to hear rhetoric being bandied around the office by the management about the realities of working life, the great value of the work we got to do, the awesomeness of the respective organizations that we were so fortunate to be working in. Some of us took it all in. As relatively new entrants into the workforce, we were impressionable and listened intently to whatever that was told to us. Just like Jon Snow, we knew nothing.
Unfortunately, lots of the stuff being spouted out of the mouths of older employees may not always be in our best interests. Worse, some arguments may be misleading, biased, disingenuous and perhaps detrimental to our careers.
One thing that we can really control though is that if we can feel in our guts that something at work isn’t quite right for us, it’s time to change the situation we are in and gain new perspectives on our careers – changing teams, functions, employers or even the industry.
Here are perhaps three reasons to obtain fresh perspectives for our long-term career growth.
Many times, we may not really understand or appreciate what is really good or bad until we have experienced other situations. If the baseline is X, and if we have not experienced other situations before, Situation X becomes the norm to us because we know nothing else. Thus, when people say that X is good, is it truly good?
Some of us ex-colleagues were pleasantly surprised when we left this particular agency that we all once worked at, and began plying our trades at various Fortune 500s and even some tech start-ups. Most were in agreement that the quality of the management, value / impact / meaning of the work we do, competencies of co-workers, adequacy of benefits were far better than our former employer.
While the former employer may not necessarily be horrible per se, but when we place it in perspective and in relation to some other employers, it just can’t measure up across most aspects. Not by any stretch of one’s imagination.
But the point is, without having the benefit of hindsight, breadth of experiences and thus being able to make some form of comparison to other industries for instance, it’s gonna be difficult to evaluate our situations objectively and rationally simply by virtue of having limited perspectives. So we may wanna ask ourselves: to what extent are our current views representative of the big vast world out there?
2. We Won’t Fall Prey To The ‘Not Invented Here’ Syndrome
Not invented here (NIH) is a stance adopted by social, corporate, or institutional cultures that avoid using or buying already existing products, research, standards, or knowledge because of their external origins and costs.
This philosophy manifests as an unwillingness to adopt an idea or product because it originates from another culture, a form of tribalism.
Some of us have noticed in several employers that we have worked at, rhetoric thrown about by some senior staff which seek to criticize competitors within our industry, place negative labels on the job scope of our direct clients, to even casting aspersions on the integrity, work value and impact of another industry altogether! (In my case, management consulting)
I will boil this down to perhaps one key reason. The ‘not invented here’ syndrome – if the methodology or idea didn’t originate within us, it sucks.
How can you make rational, justifiable and equitable judgments of other companies or industries if you haven’t even worked there or have really understood the nature of their work? Just because they do things differently, it doesn’t necessarily equate to them being incorrect. What are your perceptions based on? Group-thinking? Using one sporadic example as justification for the generalization of the entire industry or employer? Hearsay?
One way to not fall victim to this phenomenon is to recognize that there are always differing views on one matter and until we embrace and view things from a different angle, we may just be viewing things with tinted glasses.
3. We May Find Work That Suits Us More
Sometimes, especially early on in our careers, we may not have the luxury of immediately gaining employment which suits our personality, core business interests and work values.
Some time is required to figure out what works for us. An expansion of our perspectives and willingness to try new roles won’t hurt as well! We may have to take a chance to change the situation, or things won’t change.
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