The Value of Being Strategic

“Strategy is a fancy word for coming up with a long term plan and putting it into action.” – Ellie Pidot

Getting into the last month of the first quarter, I feel the year is on a sprint to come to an end. I don’t know if I’m the only one who thinks so, as February went by really fast. In hindsight, I am glad I have pulled through this far, and done what I’ve been able to accomplish over this time.

Having been a weekend, which serves as my ideal time to catch up with family, I got on a call with my sister in the evening. In our conversation, we got to reflect on some of the experiences and observations we’ve made over the last months, and most importantly, around the corporate culture & young people. Thinking through her experience with a junior who joined her company, she mentioned that the guy was not true to himself, and went on to lie about his past track record, including his capabilities. Three months in, the truth got out and he got laid off. Upon further probing, his deceit was fueled by the fact that his peers were having better lives and he felt like a failure. This would have felt so, but it doesn’t mean he was failing unless he took it to be so. Considering each of us is running our own race, one’s observation of another person’s life shouldn’t make one get sidetracked from making the best of yours. Being your best version translates to acquiring the critical skills and forging the essential relationships going by the due process. This is something I also wrote about earlier here. Having lost his job, he’s back at a worse position than where he started, but hopefully with the feedback he got he’ll be keen to get the right skills and grow steadily.

Thinking through this ordeal, I am confident that there is power in strategy, especially factoring the long term goal of your pursuit. If you intend to be at a particular position or level of practice, you need to identify the requirements for that position in terms of skills, experiences, and competencies. With this, you need to work on acquiring them otherwise you’ll aspire for the same position with nothing to back it up, which means you will be living a lie. Starting at the lowest position doesn’t mean you are bound to fail in the long term. What counts is what you do with the position you are put in. If you get to work casually at a site with undergraduate training, it’s important to correlate your training to the practical aspect of the work, so that when you get to engage the contractor you are different. Being at your best is a competitive advantage and you can’t be your best without understanding the in-dealings of the industry. That’s the power of strategic positioning, learning and experiences that contribute to your ultimate goal. With a plan on what you intend to be, you become selective and strategic about the opportunities you take up, thus better suited to succeed at what you do.

I remember during my undergraduate education we had a lecturer who used to remind us that when we venture out of school, we’ll be facing the world as individuals at different phases of the “Sigmoid Growth Curve.” Ours is to accept our status, commit to work along the curve, and enjoy the journey as we go through life. Comparing ourselves with others does not earn us much, but rather puts undue pressure, preventing us from enjoying & learning from our experiences. Pursuit of money without appreciating the value of that money is not a measure of success. Put value to it and celebrate the value. As you venture into this last month of the first quarter, take time to reflect on what you have been up to, and how strategic it is in the furtherance of your goals & aspirations.

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