This morning I had a phone conversation with a college friend. It's been decades since we lived down the hall from each other in the dorm. Both of our careers have evolved in ways that we couldn't have imagined when we were 18 years old.
I was calling my friend to get advice on the college admissions process for my son, who will be a high school senior in the fall. My friend, "Mary" runs a staff of counselors at an elite private secondary school in a big metro area. She's good at her job, partly because she loves it, but also because she's been on the other side of the table, having previously worked in admissions for a top private university. Photo by Kelvin Kevin_Gan
In the course of 30 minutes, she told me facts and tips that only someone who is immersed in the college admissions process would know. This is stuff that isn't found in any book at Barnes and Noble, nor in the heads of the average high school counselor. More than once, I asked, "How do you know this stuff?" To which she replied, "I'm in the loop." Then she said, "Well, it helps to have been doing this work for decades."
What struck me most was how eager my friend was to help me. She asked many questions, not just about my high school senior, but also about my older son's experience after starting college last year. At the end of our conversation, she cheerfully said, "If you have any other questions, give me a call. I'd be happy to help." I was grateful for her offer.
When I told my husband about our conversation, I mentioned how "Mary" was eager to lend her expertise and be valued for it. To which my husband said, "I think everyone wants to show what they know and be recognized for it, not just Mary."
It's true. We all want to be well-used. In a follow-up email, "Mary" wrote: "I love my job and I am thrilled for the chance to share inside secrets with friends and family."
We each have so much to give and in return, we ask for so little. A simple thank you is enough.
My hunch is that this is not what most people experience in the workplace on a daily basis--applying their expertise AND being acknowledged for it. We spend far too much time seeing and pointing out what's wrong, rather than seeing what's right.
Pure brilliance, born from years of experience, a strong curiosity, an innate talent, and passion for our work is just waiting to be seen and called out. Be the one who gives someone the thrill of being well-used. Photo by ~Willa~