We’re all just one step away from stupid.
Who is your rigger? That was the question I was asked, and somehow I felt I ought to know the answer to their question. However, I didn’t actually understand the question, never mind have an answer for them.
I was a newly appointed Project Manager, and I had just taken over a new project in a new company in a new industry, and I had just arrived on site.
“It’s hard to improve when you have no-one but yourself to follow”
~ John Maxwell
The project involved designing a control automation system for a piece of equipment in an electricity generating Power Station in the Midlands, and the control panel for the second of four installations had arrived on site before me. It was to be installed on what’s known as the “100 foot level” on account of it being 100 feet above ground level.
To get it there, it needed to be lifted by a hoist that was installed for that purpose in the power station, and the person responsible for attaching the panel to the crane was called a rigger. There is an obvious safety risk if the panel is not attached correctly, so this job had training and qualifications and all of that.
As it happens the job of getting the panel into position was something that had been subcontracted, and all the relevant paperwork was in place, and the work was being carried out according to safety guidelines by a nice fellow called Steve, however, this was the first time I had ever come across that job description.
“ … without outside input you will never be as good as you could be. We all do better when somebody is watching and evaluating …”
~ Andy Stanley
Throughout my career, I have had to rely on others to help me do my job. When I started out as a new graduate in an engineering firm I felt really embarrassed that I had to ask for advice almost every step of the way. Here I was a newly graduated Electrical Engineer, and yet I had to ask for advice from my colleagues to be able to do my job.
Before long I had got the hang of the automation design work, only to find that now I was being asked to visit our parent company in France to discuss some detailed design issues with our colleagues across the channel, and I was going to represent the views of the UK design team in a design meeting. This time I had to ask advice from my engineering colleagues on what “our” view was, and to ask advice from my language instructors how to represent that view in French … time after time I was seeking advice from others.
“To know the road ahead, ask those coming back”
~ Chinese proverb
It turns out that it’s best to get used to asking advice, or at least it has been for me since I have been asking others for their advice throughout my career! When I started in a Sales role I had to ask advice from colleagues on how to do “cold calling” for example. One of the advantages I found during my career working for several large engineering organisations is that there has usually been someone I could turn to for advice.
When I started out in business for myself, however, along with the freedom of being my own boss, all of a sudden I no longer had the luxury of having colleagues around me that I could model myself on. I had no-one to turn to for advice and guidance. Whenever I encountered something new I had to figure it out for myself.
“Self evaluation is helpful, but evaluation from someone else is essential”
~ Andy Stanley
That’s when I realised the benefit of having a group that I could turn to that were further ahead on the path that I was. Whether it was colleagues in the control automation field, in the language field, or in the sales field, I had found that it was so much easier to make effective progress when I could discuss these ideas with others that had faced and were facing the same challenges. Now that I no longer had colleagues in the same company I could turn to, I would need to find colleagues somewhere else instead.
In “The Law of Modelling” John Maxwell suggests that we should make two lists:
- First, list the specific strengths and skills you want to improve to reach your potential,
- Second, list the specific problem areas where you feel the need for ongoing guidance.
Then we should begin looking for people or groups with the expertise in these areas from whom we can obtain some advice, and make an investment in building those relationships.
“I don’t know of a successful person who hasn’t learned from more experienced people. Sometimes they follow in their footsteps. Other times they use their advice to help them break new ground.”
~ John Maxwell
About Roger Fairhead
Roger is a Leadership specialist and uses the PRIZE Winning Leadership model to help leaders improve their effectiveness and that of their teams, through remote and on-site delivery of keynotes, group training events and individual coaching sessions.
He is the author of several books including "PRIZE Winning Leadership" and “Personal Productivity Planner”, a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Director of the Global Leadership Network UK with extensive experience in Project Management and Sales.
“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.
Roger also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.