When I got promoted at GE, I was always excited. The prospect of a new role with its own distinctive challenges and rewards was enticing.
It was satisfying to feel that my work was valued and my contribution had been recognised.
There were always lots of opportunities in GE and it was great to be launching into something new and exciting.
The trouble was though, I sometimes got a bit stuck in my ‘good student’ mindset.
What do I mean by that?
There’s a fabulous chapter in Tara Mohr’s book, Playing Big, on this subject, but in a nutshell, it’s the fact that our education system is based on gaining knowledge and wisdom from external sources (books, classes, lectures, other experts etc) rather than trusting our own instincts and experience and letting them come to the fore.
The knowledge-gaining is all fine, but looking externally can become too dominant so that we end up neglecting and de-valuing our inner wisdom.
In a new role, it’s tempting to look to others for a guide on how to behave, what to do, so much so that we let our own inner sense of what is right be silenced.
‘Good student’ mindset also fools us into believing that our value is all based on what we KNOW, rather than who we ARE. At the start of a new job, any self-doubt that we are not good enough feeds into the false belief that we must be valued for our knowledge rather than how we are as human beings, and makes us scramble to read up about a topic or take yet another course.
And yet, the more senior in your career you become, the more you are hired for your experience, your judgement and your inner wisdom. It’s no longer about your technical ability, but more about your personal qualities.
The ‘good student’ mindset, which serves you in your early career, is not useful anymore.
I find it helpful to remind myself of this, when I catch myself thinking I need to consult a certain expert about their views on a topic, or considering yet another course to make myself even more proficient in a particular area.
One tip from Tara Mohr is to find an opportunity each day where your natural tendency is to look externally for answers and instead to take a deep breath and look inside yourself to see what ideas and insights are already within you. And bring those to the fore.
Looking within rather than externally can be one of those exciting/scary experiences, which indicates it is a place of growth for you.
Let’s all start to notice how our ‘good student’ shows up and make a point of telling her we are thankful for all she’s given us, but it’s time for a new chapter.
What do you do to get out of your ‘good student’ ways?