This global pandemic has disrupted all of our lives.
Many people are distracted, stressed and sleeping badly. Job losses are being announced, and many plans for the year lie in tatters.
However, I believe this time of crisis can be a positive turning point in the careers and lives of many data professionals. I say this because we are needed now, perhaps more than ever before.
It is also clear that our old approaches to work, our old habits, will not be good enough for this time. We all need to raise our game.
Charles Duhigg, in his excellent book, The Power of Habit states that “Sometimes, in the heat of a crisis, the right habits emerge.”
And while good habits can naturally emerge, more commonly, I believe that good habits need to be intentionally created.
While change is normally resisted, it becomes more acceptable when people come to recognise that change is essential. Because this crisis is so severe, there is now so much that we want to change, yet most of it is beyond our control.
To use Stephen Covey’s analogy – We currently have a big circle of concern, but a small circle of influence. However, we can use these influence-limits to our advantage. We can focus our attention on those few areas that are in our control.
And what is it that we have be most influence over?
You guessed it: Ourselves.
So, I’m starting with me. I’m asking: “What can I do to serve better, to work better, to lead better?”
For the last decade I have been an avid student of personal and professional development, as well as a coach for my postgraduate students. At this time, I’m continuing to read and reflect; and I’m now writing more publicly about this vital topic.
The five current needs, which must be met
There are five needs which must be met that make this the time that we data professionals should fully embrace personal development:
Need 1: We are needed to serve more widely
We need to be physically and emotionally present to serve the people in our lives more effectively.
It might mean supporting home-schooling, or getting enough sleep so we don’t loose our temper with our (now 24/7) household, or helping people who are isolated and shielding. Each of these essential acts of service requires time and attention.
And this is not a sprint – it’s a marathon.
There can be a joy in serving others. And through simple adjustments, we can free up enough time and emotional energy to serve those around us (even with a smile!).
Need 2: We are needed to work more productively
Our businesses and economy require excellence at this time. Working from home is new to most, and a challenge to many, especially with kids at home.
When working from home, boundaries can blur to the detriment of both the quality of rest and work.
The great news is that can train ourselves to be deeply productive – to work on the things that actually matter. We can get this important work done excellently and on time, and then be able to rest, knowing we are making progress each day.
Need 3: We are needed to communicate more clearly
Sending an email or arranging a zoom meeting is easy. Effective communication that conveys complex information, deeper meanings, and responds sensitively to non-verbal feedback is harder in this remote world.
Thankfully, we can train ourselves to become excellent listeners, and communicators. You and I can practice clear, kind and efficient communication, stopping conflict or bad decisions before they arise.
Need 4: We are needed to lead more intentionally
Leadership is not something that comes with a title. It comes with practice.
We need to lead ourselves, our families and teams towards a brighter future. We need to model good patterns of behaviour, work, and attitude.
Many people have observed that we become the average of the 5-10 people with whom we spend the most time. This applies to all areas of life: physical and mental health, finances, relationship success, smoking rates, life expectancy and more.
The way that you and I live has a dramatic influence on those around us. So, let’s live and lead with intention and purpose!
Need 5: We are needed to adapt more effectively
So much is changing! People who can adapt quickly take advantage of, and benefit from, the new situations in which they find themselves.
Wonderfully, we can learn how to make good decisions, and make them quickly. We can train ourselves to act decisively and thrive in what these new situations have to offer.
So where from here?
Being technically proficient is no longer good enough to ensure career success.
We need to build our professional skill sets. Powerful skills like communication, networking, productivity and decision-making are now absolutely vital. Some call them “soft” skills. I think this term downplays their vital importance.
Companies regularly pass over highly qualified and technically brilliant data professionals because of a lack of these skills. I know proficient, capable people who are working harder and longer than ever, yet their jobs are at risk.
We know that adapting to new circumstances and learning new skills can open unexpected doors and fresh opportunities.
We can’t sit idly by, drifting through this crisis.
As Rham Emanuel said in the 2008 global financial crisis: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste… This crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before.”
This is still so true. There are new opportunities. It is up to us to seize them.
Join me on a journey to master professional skills
I would love to invite you on this journey with me, as we seek to improve ourselves, together.
We will raise our game. Together we will seek to serve better, to work better, to love better.
Over the next few weeks, I will be writing more about the skills and habits that I feel are most important for us to cultivate at this time of crisis, and the new way of living that will follow.
So, if you want :
- to serve more widely,
- to work more productively,
- to communicate more clearly,
- to lead more intentionally and
- to adapt more effectively,
then I invite you to join me on this journey! Enter your email below and let’s do this together.
When you sign up, I will send you my thoughts based on the best research on personal and professional mastery. I’ll share suggestions for how we can put these ideas into practice.
In this time of isolation, we are not alone. We can travel this road together. I look forward to working with you.