In the last article, I discussed that achieving personal mastery is essential for safe and efficient work practices over the long term. Of course, knowing whether you were moving in the direction of mastery or if you were stuck would be helpful. The following is a partial list of examples of someone who is on the path to mastery. I’ve listed them and then provided some industry relevant examples. In short, those who have mastered their work position are:
- Knowledgeable about Industry Fundamentals
- Oriented toward Growth
- Organizationally Savvy
- Psychologically Aware
- Expansive Thinkers
- Continuous Learners
- Always in Demand
Knowledgeable about Industry Fundamentals
You know the essential facts and statistics about your department, your larger organization or company, as well as the industry. Learning these facts establishes a learning habit and provides a mental scaffold for framing and understanding new information:
- You have read the submitted rate case summary and the T&D relevant segments
- You understand how your organization is regulated and how it makes money
- You understand the electrical system from the generator to the residential light switch
- You will know how many miles of transmission, sub-transmission and distribution lines, substations, circuit breakers, poles, etc. are on your system.
- You will understand current technology challenges and opportunities
Oriented toward Growth
You feel tension and malaise when you are not growing or are appropriately challenged.
You accept the responsibility to kick start a new learning path on your own
You keep abreast of industry trends and breakthroughs
You are current with developments in related departments, for example:
- As a lineman, you are aware of construction and safety standards, planning department processes and challenges
- As a planner, you are aware of city, county and state requirements as well as engineering department processes and challenges
- As a T&D control-room operator, you are aware of federal and state regulations, protection and controls schemes, planning guidelines and what it takes to work in the field; e.g. entering a water filled vault, rigging a switch for safe operation, managing traffic at a busy intersection, etc.
You understand the psychological traps that inhibit efficient and ongoing learning:
- You don’t demonize or idealize others, rather you rise above petty squabbles and thoughts and work constructively – this is emotional intelligence
- You manage yourself professionally, including your appearance, ensuring a positive first impression - this is social intelligence
- You let your work be the evidence of competence and mastery
- You give and receive feedback honestly and constructively, recognizing that you will have the impulse to reject accurate feedback, but instead have learned to recognize it as an essential element along the path to mastery
- You will learn to suspend judgment as long and as often as possible so that you can continue to learn, checking your assumptions and abrupt reactions that truncate learning, and actively seek new approaches and perspectives instead
You draw inspiration and ideas from related fields
- How NASA secures tools when working in space
- How fall restraint is rigged for work on a Boeing 747 wings and tail
- How hospitals address errors in the operating room
- How the aviation community learned to manage interpersonal skills in the cockpit to improve functional crew harmony.
You consider the end of your formal training the beginning of your professional apprenticeship:
- You begin to collect material – books, PowerPoint presentations, vendor collateral, etc.
- You make time for and prioritize learning; recognizing that it is simply a long-term work task
- You seek jobs that will increase your experience
- You eagerly learn your new job responsibilities and began to understand what it takes to seek the next level, whether or not you choose to promote
- You always look for opportunities and relocate if possible to take advantage of these opportunities
- You work hard to be a person others want to mentor – the best mentors are earned organically by mentees.
Always in Demand
- You are frequently invited to participate on cross-sectional teams
- You are frequently asked for advice, technical assistance or to help writing procedures and policy statements
- You are always in demand as a mentor
- You acquire skills that keep you in demand to represent your company with outside agencies, other utilities and regulators
- Others in your profession actively seek to join you in their journey towards mastery
Deep competence results in a secure work position, allowing thoughtful and considered decision-making, especially when there are unusual or particularly challenging circumstances, including storms. Striving to achieve deep competence makes work more enjoyable simply because the path, timing and intensity of self-development is up to you. It is a rare opportunity for autonomous decision-making despite the frustrating tugs and pulls of a large organization. You get to design the learning or developmental roadmap (we’ll help!) and determine whether or not you are making acceptable progress.
The act of integrating learning into your work tasks makes challenging and repetitive work more enjoyable. You will have a reason to perform your work that is important to you, benefiting both you and your organizationally equally. After spending years in a WWII concentration camp, Victor Frankl realized that all things are possible when you have a reason. Progress on your learning agenda will allow small victories along the way, fueling a sense of purpose and - according to the psychologists - adding to your well-being – a fancy word for simply being happier. And, lastly, it adds to your marketability in the event of organizational reductions, no longer such a rare event in our industry.
Reading this article is evidence that YOU are seeking personal mastery. We wish you the very best and appreciate any comments you would like to share.