Questions.

I have always believed that asking questions are important.  Recently, I found a more elegant way to say what I believe:

“What shapes our lives are the questions we ask, refuse to ask, and never think to ask”  -   Sam Keene

It is true that if there is something new that we are doing, we need to ask question, no matter how we believe other people will perceive us for asking the question. You need information, ask for it.  And then there are questions that we cannot start to ask because we don’t know that there is a gap in our knowledge.

How do we know what that gap is?  Reading is one way but another way is to look to our supervisors for some mentorship.  The least you can do for yourself is ask humbly, what is it that I need to know/read/do to apply myself more effectively?  In the best case, our supervisors would demonstrate and role model for us so we can learn by exposure and watching but there are things that we don’t see or we don’t even know about.  So, ask.  Ask questions.  Engage senior level people, get them to talk to you about how they got to where they are, ask them what it is that drives them; ask them questions that will lead you to the how they feel about things instead of just WHAT made them do what they did (assuming you are asking for a GOOD situation and wondering about motivation).

“How” questions help people open up and share their stories.  “What” questions, provides a factual statement, then it ends.  Ask for stories of how they overcame obstacles – maybe something similar to what you are facing now. 

There are two types of supervisors, those that initiate the mentorship role by setting up at least monthly meetings with you and those that expect you to set up time with them.  I am more of the former because I have always believed that the higher up you go, the more you are there to serve; the greater your responsibility to reach out and coach/mentor your people.  Not everyone shares my philosophy.

If you have a supervisor that isn’t proactive about reaching out to you – reach out to them.  Ask the questions.  At this point, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain; increase your profile at work by being the one that is willing to learn and be the one that learns through others experiences; as much as possible make sure you don’t have any blind spots.  A possible shorter line to moving up, at the very least to learning.  Good luck.

image by: Matthias Ripp