Be an Option!

By | October 20, 2014

Kool Derby

While watching my 10-year-old son play soccer this past weekend, I heard his coach yell many instructions from the sideline, such as:

  • “Get in position, Aaron!”
  • “Ricky, you have to stay onside!”
  • “Team, we have to keep them in front of us!”

However, the advice that resonated with me was the following: “Be an option!”

I know the business community is filled with many sports-related metaphors, such as “Tackle that assignment” and “Full court press.” However, “Be an option” was a new one to me.

Let me provide some ways in which you can be an option in your workplace:

#1: Have the desire to contribute.

It’s quite easy to determine who is willing to participate on a project, and who wants to stay far away. You shouldn’t bite off more than we can chew, but work must be distributed across team members, and you must be willing to do your part. When a particular project arises, look for ways you can contribute. If you lack the time to do the tactical work, the team might benefit by having you as a subject matter expert. In other words, keep an open mind and consider how you can be an option.

#2: Learn the hot skills needed in today’s workplace.

In everyone’s line of work, there are emerging skills and knowledge. For example, Agile Scrum is in big demand in the IT industry. Therefore, IT professionals must look for opportunities to learn this methodology. If your employer does not provide the training, consider making the investment on your own. The bottom line is that you probably will not be working with the same company for the rest of your life, and staying current is mandatory.

#3: Think creatively.

Once you’re on the team, look for solutions that are creative and unique. While there are conventional ways of doing something, consider new ways. Before Twitter, people were texting. However, Twitter took the concept of texting and put it on steroids. Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb and try something new. The Imagineers at Disney create completely new attractions by letting their minds run wild. Even the craziest idea might lead to a great result – The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

I’m reminded of what Chris Matthews of CNBC commented, “Get yourself a seat at the table, and become a meaningful participant.” You must first show others that you belong, and once you have this opportunity, contribute workable solutions. By doing your homework, you are an excellent option to your leadership team.

When a project lands on your desk, figure out a way to make it work. You might have to collaborate with other smart people before taking your first step, which is fine. The goal is to kick the can down the street. Start doing something – anything!

Near the end of the first half, Sammy broke away from a crowd of players and positioned himself well for a pass from a teammate. From his periphery, Ryan saw that Sammy had a perfect shot to the goal and whisked the ball to him. Without hesitation, Sammy struck the ball with his left foot on a rope and it hit the back of the net before the goalie knew what happened.

Coach said, “Sammy, you made yourself the option, and Ryan found you! Nice job, fellas!”

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