Professional Incompetence or Just a Bad Fit?
I’m sure Albert Einstein had a lot of memorable quotes, but this particular one struck a chord with me. He said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
As a career coach, I know how often people end up in a career that is a bad fit. You may have been there yourself, you take a position because it pays the bills and you tell yourself it won’t be forever. You go to work with the best intentions, but it seems that no matter how hard you try you just can’t meet, let alone exceed your employer’s expectations. The employer begins to judge you as being lazy, unmotivated, or unskilled, and eventually you start to believe it. Not because any of those things are true, but because like the fish who is being judged by its ability to climb a tree, you are being judged by your ability to do the wrong job. This can easily create a reality where you go through your entire career believing you are incompetent.
When was the last time you actually thought about your career? Do you enjoy what you are doing? Are you utilizing all of your skills? Are you challenged? Are you growing professionally? What made you choose this particular line of work? Do you enjoy getting out of bed in the morning? All of these questions are important as you evaluate your professional circumstances. Each one, if answered honestly, will help you assess whether or not it is time for you to make a change.
Finding true success in the workplace means consistently demonstrating valuable behaviors to your employer. If you are in the wrong position you are likely spending your days marking time. You are doing your assigned tasks to the best of your ability, but you aren’t going the extra mile. You aren’t stretching, thinking strategically, or even thinking at all. It becomes a daily grind. The right fit means you are motivated, it means you are going to work each day with your mind already filled with new ideas and solutions to problems. You are adding value to your employer each and every day. And most importantly, it means you are excited about it.
No one starts their day claiming, “I think I will be mediocre today.” If you find yourself struggling to be excellent, consider whether you are in fact in the wrong position. The longer you stay in the wrong position the longer it will take you to reach your potential. Don’t settle. Once you find your niche you will be judged and rewarded based on who you are and what you are capable of. You will no longer be like the fish being judged on the ability to climb a tree.