I wrote this book to help ALL engineers, scientists, and technologists (and technical managers) get past the career roadblocks that inevitably develop just because we are technical people and we tend to look at the world in a certain way. (I know, that is a big generalization, but it tends to be generally true.)
So whether you are a baby-boomer, or you are from Generation X, Y, Z, or a millennial, or even a more recent entrant into the technical workforce, this book can be extremely helpful to you. It will be helpful primarily because no one (as far as I can tell) has taken the approach I have taken in my book to helping you advance your career.
Most people who want to assist you in your career advancement will tell you how to behave. They will focus on the behaviors that you currently exhibit and then they will tell you the behaviors you have to adopt. Then they will tell you to just trade those old behaviors for the new ones and just keep at it until it works.
As most of us know from real-life experience, this seldom works. There are many behaviors in each of our own lives that we would like to change and yet no amount of understanding, personal will, discussion, and/or knowledge seem to get it done. There must be something else going on. This book addresses that other part; it takes a different approach and tackles the “something else” that is going on. And for these reasons, I think this book is unique and can be of help to anyone who wants to advance his or her career. (Read the Forward by Dr. Joseph Riggio, under the header title “Browse the Book” for more about this.)
However, I'm going to use the millennial generation as the example here because the millennial generation is getting a bad rap at present and therefore it is a good example as well as being timely.
Is this you?
If you are a millennial you probably have developed a combination of mental "lenses" through which you look at, hear, and interact with the world, in general, and the technical world in particular.
You were raised in a generation that was the first generation to be truly connected electronically to the world. Software, gaming, technology, connectedness, are in your blood just because of the generational environment in which you were immersed. Add to that the fact that you are an engineer, scientist, or technologist, and your connection to the technical world is much more solid and comfortable than that of most people of previoius generations.
You, the millennial generation, make up 25% of the U.S. population. And just like every other generation before you and every generation after, you have your own idiosyncrasies and your own way of moving through the world. And because of this, you get labels placed on you.
Some of the labels are good, some not so much. I’m going to list some of the labels applied to Millennials but don’t argue with me about them. I didn’t make them up. These are the labels that are often and generally applied to the millennial generation, and by the way, some were given to the generations that came before yours.
- Millennials are “cybercitizens”.
- Millennials “feel entitled”.
- Millennials “are optimistic”.
- Millennials “are civic-minded”.
- Millennials “have close parental ties”.
- Millennials “want work-life balance”.
- Millennials “are impatient”.
- Millennials “are team-oriented”.
- Millennials “are arrogant”.
- Millennials “are rude”.
- Millennials “don’t consider interpersonal communication important”.
- Millennials believe “information is more important than how the information is transmitted”.
These are only a few of the labels that are applied to Millennials. To be sure there are plenty of good and not so good labels that were and are applied to the Baby-Boomer Generation, Generation-X, Generation-Y and so on. So those of you who are in the millennial generation, there is no need to consider yourselves singled-out or picked-on, or unfairly attacked. It is what it is and it is and has been this way for all of us from every generation.
Every generation has something unique about it. The behaviors and labels that are attributed to you, the Millennials are not accidental. They are the accumulated effects of the world you grew up in and the schooling you received as you moved into your technical careers, and the parenting philosophies of the parents you had who came of age in the previous generation in their own unique environment.
The premise of my book
In my book, I look at fifteen behaviors that seem to occur in young engineers, scientists, and technologists, regardless of their respective generations. They seem to be a function of the fact that you are technologists who look at the world in a certain way. These behaviors are either amplified because of your generation or diminished, but they seem to be there for every generation to some degree.
And, from my experience, if you do not change these behaviors that make you a good engineer, or scientist, or technologist, then, as your career progresses, they will slow down your ability to advance your career over time. Therefore, if you can change these “limiting” behaviors you can go a long way to advancing your career and having a long-term career that brings you the satisfaction that was the dream that got you started on this path in the first place.
Here is an example
One of those behaviors is “tying your identity to your ideas”. You have been taught in school that the smarter you are, the brighter your ideas, the more you are valued. You learn very quickly that the ideas you have are a direct reflection of your value and therefore, positively implact the grades you receive.
Fast forward to your work environment. You believe that the smarter you look, the better your ideas, the more you are valued and the better will be your performance reviews and therefore, the higher your salary and/or bonuses. Your ideas are tied to who you are seen to be, and that impacts your success and your salary and your advancement.
So imagine this scenario. You are in a meeting with your technical colleagues and your manager. You put forth an idea. You think it is a good idea.
Then someone challenges your idea. Your old training and teaching automatically kick in. Someone has attacked your idea and therefore, they have attacked you. You defend your idea. The discussion goes back and forth, getting more and more intense, more and more personal. You continue to defend your idea even though you are beginning to say things that are a little bit of a stretch.
It doesn’t take long until you feel like you are backed into a corner defending your idea past all reason and the roomful of people notice you have done this. But what do you do? How do you get out of this situation?
The answer is, you should never have gotten into it in the first place. Your perspective that your idea is somehow a reflection of your identity was an incorrect perspective in the first place.
But how do you take that Limiting Belief; “my ideas are tied to my identity” and replace it with an expansive belief or Gem of Wisdom; “good ideas can come from anywhere and my ability to integrate different ideas is what makes me more valuable”?
In the book I’ll teach you how to identify fifteen of your Limiting Beliefs and replace them with fifteen associated Gems of Wisdom. By making this switch you will be able easily to transform your Limiting Behaviors (i.e., arguing for your ideas beyond all reason) to Expansive Behaviors (i.e., integrating the best of different ideas regardless of the source).
When you have applied the process in my book to the fifteen Limiting Behaviors you will be recognized as someone who can fully contribute his or her engineering knowledge to the organization.
The process of my book
So the process is like this:
- You have some Limiting Behaviors that are getting in your way and you are getting hammered for them at work.
- Those Limiting Behaviors are driven by a set of limiting mental drivers or Limiting Beliefs.
- It is important to understand those limiting mental drivers or Limiting Beliefs.
- We then substitute those Limiting Beliefs with what I call Gems of Wisdom; new ways of thinking about and perceiving the world that allow you to produce completely different behaviors.
- The new or expansive behaviors then become the product of these new mental drivers, and in fact, you don’t really have to think about the new behaviors… they just show up because you have these new Gems of Wisdom in your mental maps.
My book takes you through all the steps necessary to replace 15 Limiting Behaviors with 15 Career Enhancing Behaviors. You can see a list of those Limiting Beliefs and Behaviors that can be changed in the Table of Contents under the Browse the Book header title.
That’s a short summary of how the book works and how you can take a behavior and change it. While there are 15 such limiting behaviors and beliefs that I address in the book, and I show you how to replace the Limiting Beliefs with the Gems of Wisdom and turn the Limiting Behaviors into Career Enhancing Behaviors, not all the 15 chapter topics will apply to you. Some will be topics that you already have under control others you will want to take advantage of. So, when you have a behavior or behaviors that are really getting in your way… those are the chapters to focus on. Pick and choose what is most important now and work on those. And then move on to others as the need arises.
AND, once you have the process down you can apply it to behaviors that you want to change but that I have not addressed directly in the book. You will have a tool you can apply to other aspects of your career or your life.
Have fun and enjoy your successes!