Developing Your Career

Got a Problem? Figure It Out

By Helene Cavalli on May 21, 2013

As long-time Los Angeles Dodgers’ manager Tommy Lasorda once said, “The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man’s determination.” Consider the workplace implications of this simple statement. Do you seek solutions to problems or give up when the going gets tough? Have you challenged yourself to learn new skills independently, or are you waiting to be told what to do? In other words, do you demonstrate the determination needed to make the impossible possible?

In his LinkedIn article, “Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean in: Inconsistent Arguments and Flawed Conclusions“, Michel Baudin expresses surprise at the Facebook executive’s admission that she didn’t know Lotus 1-2-3 when she began her first job at the World Bank. What’s more startling to Baudin is that her boss took the time to teach her the program. From his experience, Baudin contends, “It was understood that, at this level of education, the one thing you are supposed to have learned is how to teach yourself what you need.”

Chances are, your manager isn’t going to have the time or inclination to teach you all the skills you need – nor should he. It’s the responsibility of all of us to take initiative to learn what’s needed to tackle problems and accomplish goals. Today, educational opportunities abound and employees have unprecedented access to information through a variety of channels: an organization’s in-house training department, free online courses, community colleges, conferences, workshops, on-the-job training through stretch assignments and cross-functional teaming, Internet search engines, just to name a few.

With so much information available to us, there is little excuse for not being able to figure a lot of things out.  Are you relying on others to do your problem solving? Developing the agility to know what’s needed and learn independently is the difference between a star performer and someone who’s just doing his job.

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