As I mentioned last time, although my schedule hasn’t lightened during this season, I am continuing to make certain decisions to engage in various reflective exercises with the time that I do have available.
I was gifted a copy of the book Younique, by Will Mancini, which was just released earlier this year. I’m finding it a helpful companion for personal reflection on, and articulation of, my passions, values, and other related matters.
But one portion especially struck me from the perspective of followership.
I won’t steal Mancini’s thunder on the whole process, but Step 3 is “Value to show.” While I think he produced a fairly ambiguous title simply to accord stylistically with the other headings he uses in this chapter, the substance of his thought is significant.
Here are a few quotations:
- “As you get to know yourself…and learn from your experiences…you will soon make yourself more valuable.”
- “Value to show means striving for the continual refinement of your role description in your current vocation or place of employment. It means that you proactively broker a great exchange—you bring more contribution to your work and you get more vitality at your work. That’s aligning your 9-to-5 time with your divine design.”
- “It’s amazing to me how many people don’t second-guess the best way to invest their talents and time on behalf of their employer….”
- “If you are doing the same job the same way you did last year, you are not growing.”
- “What is the specific use of your experiences, passions, skills, and abilities that is the highest and best use not just for you but for your organization?”
If you’ve followed this blog for some time, or been exposed to either of the Embracing Followership books, hopefully you can hear some of the dominant threads of what it means to be an excellent follower shining through this list.
Self-awareness. Growth. Stewardship. Role clarity. Contribution.
Mancini does provide some concrete ways of considering how you might add extra value to your current organization—and the next step is to be willing to make even more radical employment changes if that’s what’s required to enter into a place of best fit for you.
But in this above list, I find a great evaluative framework for considering the quality of our followership and our journey of pursuing excellence.
I am personally in a season of “second-guessing the best way to invest my talents and time,” while also acknowledging that I am fundamentally “doing the same job the same way I did last year.” The potential conclusion—despite my regular pursuits of self-awareness and reflection—that I am not truly growing, that I am not actually changing or enhancing my activities as a result of gaining personal insight, and despite the fact that I have a very strong desire to improve the quality of my contribution and to “get more vitality at my work”—it’s all a little terrifying, and a bit discouraging.
For me, it underscores the reality that committing to excellence in our followership, in our organizational affiliation and participation, is real work. It takes significant personal resources and intentionality. And it also requires helpful guides, supports, and resources along the way. (Find some free help on our various resources pages: Reads & Links, Bibliographies, & Companion Downloads.)
And maybe one thing that is still missing (which Mancini hasn’t yet made strong mention of thus far in my reading) is that engaging along with fellow journeyers is also essential.
One of the reasons I wrote my follow-up companion volume was to bring the individual journey of embracing followership into a group context.
To fill my own gap, I have just recently begun some regular conversations with my current boss about my feelings, thoughts, desires, and reflections. Also, I have begun meeting fortnightly (I love that convenient shorthand for “every two weeks” which we frequently say here in the UK) with a mentor as an additional place to process and seek the application of my reflections.
I have high hopes that there will be real produce from this endeavor. At a minimum, I don’t want to be doing the same role in the same way next year. Maybe I won’t even be in the same role. Maybe not even in the same organization.
But I am committed to a meaningful, substantial, impactful, and positive journey both in the short-term as I desire to add value to my current colleagues and our projects, but also in the long-term as I seek answers to weighty questions about my contributions.
All of this may sound a bit like a New Year’s Resolution, despite it being mid-May.
Thankfully, it’s never too late to start, continue, deepen, or expand one’s journey of self-awareness and excellence.
How are you working toward making yourself and your contributions different in the next year?
For encouragement and guidance in understanding and applying yourself to following and leading with excellence and helping others to do the same, see:
Embracing Followership: How to Thrive in a Leader-Centric Culture (by Allen Hamlin Jr; Feb 2016), and A Discussion Guide for Teams & Small Groups (Dec 2017) —