What’s Your Score?
Are you in Dino Decline? Or, are you Dino Deluded? See below for strategies on how to rebuild, maintain or enhance your relevance. Haven’t taken the dino self-assessment, click HERE.
Hot Blooded Mammal – Sharpen Your Focus
Congratulations! You are at, or nearing the top of, your game. Believe it or not, your challenge might be to find ways to cut back on your commitments or find others to help you manage them. Are you a CEO who still takes the mail to the post office? I appreciate that it gives you a break from the daily swirl and time to clear your head. However, there are probably better ways to make room in that valuable brain of yours.
For those super-achievers, it’s important to realize that any system (or person) can be overwhelmed. You need people in your life who can tell you when that’s starting to happen. People you will listen to and whose advice you will truly consider, especially when it initially seems unnecessary. As we start to max out, one of the first things to go is our ability to accurately self-assess. If you don’t already have it, get that support network in place so you can continue to soar!
Early Hominid – Build Mindfully
This is a fabulous place to be! You have some of the fundamentals in place and now you can be very selective in what you add, piece by piece, to increase your salience to others. That’s right, to others. Think about what others need that you can provide and find an outlet for it. Build some skills, find the go-to resource, and dig deep into whatever area you have selected. Your key is to add one thing at a time. Don’t ditch things just when they get hard. Gradually build your skills so you can move through a continuum from Impossible to Difficult to Challenging to Easy. If you’ve given it a good shot and it’s not working, try something else. Just stay in motion.
Evolutionary Limbo – Find A Purpose
My guess is that you are some combination of busy, bored, lazy, or resting on your laurels. You could go in any direction, so it's time to focus. Nothing inspiring you to reach out or even be curious? How’s your self-confidence? Do you need exercise or some other challenge so you feel strong in yourself?
You may need something big to jump start you. For sure you need a mentor or an inspiration that you can relate to. Faith in something bigger than you is fantastic, but you should choose role models similar to you in temperament, background, and circumstances. The steps they took to change their stars will then be meaningful and achievable for you.
However, be careful to limit the number of mentors you take on. Find two or three and really figure out how they think, what they do, and how that might realistically work for you. This includes online mentors who publish newsletters you read in the hope that what your eyeballs are seeing will change your life. But, make at least one of them a person in your life, someone you interact with on a regular basis. They may be very humble people you see every day who possess a quality you admire. Six months from now you can start switching them out as you develop and expand your network of impact.
Dino Decline – Find a Fan
Not to worry…assuming you have a great trust fund. Enjoy the ride on that downward spiral. Okay, that’s a bit harsh, but you do need to get in gear if you want to stay in the game. The problem with scoring in this zone isn’t just that your habits make you slow, but that you have a habit of slowing down even more. I see this with people who were once hard-chargers, but who pushed too hard and burned out. This is also a creeping disease that comes from working in an environment that discourages what it takes to stay relevant or denies their employees any autonomy. For some, life has simply been hard and they have no experience in how to create, recognize, or take advantage of opportunities.
Whatever your reason, change is needed if you want your needs to be met and to feel like you contribute. Consider the strategies for Evolutionary Limbo, but realize that you are likely to fall back at the first sign of difficulty. Having someone reliable in your corner is fundamental to your success. Finding this person or group is your priority.
Dino Doomed – I Wonder…
This is what happens to people who spend too much time in Dino Decline. Long careers with bad bosses, or in organizations that regularly reorganize, can drain initiative and reasons to care. Sometimes it’s just easier to put on the golden handcuffs of a job that pays the bills, even if it drains your soul. At the time, it can seem like the best bargain you’re going to get. And yes, I speak from experience. Many in this zone will experience what I call “the seduction of the good day” to justify staying in a truly awful situation.
Once you believe that you have no other options, you really are doomed. That belief is the first thing to work on. This isn’t something you can do just by deciding to change your mind. In fact, “deciding” to change that belief will trigger your subconscious to get very creative in sabotaging your efforts. “I wonder” is a great way to explore ideas without setting off alarms in your non-conscious mind. Examples include, “I wonder how many people in my position have found another way.” “I wonder how they did that.” Gradually these ideas will become familiar and less threatening. Over time they may even move from “impossible” to “likely.”
Like the strategies for Dino Decline you will need a cheerleader to keep you going. Don’t try to change your negative thoughts; just add, “I wonder who can help me.”
Perfect? Really? A very few may be real superstars in this area. But most of us will work on this our entire careers. Even then we won’t always get it right. On the one end of the scale, we’ll miss opportunities. On the other end we’ll over-tax ourselves with what turns out to be meaningless activity.
To determine if you really are at the top of your domain, seek input from others who have nothing to gain from stroking your ego and don’t need you to stroke theirs. You may have to step well outside of your usual circles. Teenagers and young children might be good resources for you.
Superstars can be great inspirations and that is a huge contribution to those who follow. If a superstar also does a great job of passing on their brilliance to others, they may make the ultimate contribution and help someone surpass them. If nobody is poised to better you at what you do, your work doesn’t have to be done.
Once we have accomplished most of what we had set out to do, then meaning and purpose become more important to us. Finding ways to add meaning and purpose to the lives of others is yet another way for you to continue your contribution.
How to Protect Your Relevance from Extinction