Playing music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I first started learning how to play, I began by imitating those who inspired me. Following in the footsteps of musicians like Elton John, Ben Folds, and Jackson Browne, I learned everything I know about music.
One day, as I was playing music I noticed something. I noticed that while the music I was playing was heavily inspired by those whom I emulated, it was also very different. It was different because even though I thought I was mimicking these artists, I was really synthesizing their styles and techniques with my own. I had, in essence, blended the styles of others in a way that was uniquely my own; I had my own style.
As I looked back on the process by which my musical style was born, I realized this same process was used to develop many of the attributes I used in my professional life. If you look at how you have developed the habits, the processes, and the workflows that you use everyday as an administrator, I believe you’ll make the same discovery I made. You will discover that you include, blend, and transcend selective information from all around you.
Discovering how your habits, processes, and workflows were developed is the key to taking them to the next level of productivity and efficiency. The first step involves including the information around you into your process. You may have included information or processes from a previous job, from a current or former colleague, or from somebody else who has shared a best practice from another firm. You may have even found information in a journal, a book, or a seminar you attended. You’re privy to lots of information whether you’re consciously aware of it or not. This information is then available for you to draw upon as you naturally move to the next step.
After you have the information available, you will then naturally start to blend it in with the other information and processes you have working for you. Think of it like a painter who dips the paint brush into the fresh red paint and then mixes it with the other colors already on the palette. The mixing, or blending, of this paint creates something new. The red paint is still red paint, but as it mixes with the other colors it becomes something completely new. This is what you do with information you gather from the people around you, the authors you read, and the networking events you attend — you are creating something new.
Equipped with your blended information and blended experience, you now use that blend to transcend your current state. Whether this means you transcend the old way of thinking, you transcend the old way of doing things, or you simply transcend looking at things through such a narrow perspective — the purpose of including and blending information is to give yourself the ability to transcend to a new place.
You have been doing this process already in your career, however, when you explore the process by understanding its different elements, you are empowering yourself to seek more change, to seek more growth, and to seek constant improvement both for yourself and for those around you. It is these attitudes of constant improvement you’ll find in those administrators you admire the most. If it is you who has this attitude of constant improvement, be aware that people are watching you, drawing inspiration from you and changing their worlds based on the example you are setting.
You may just find that your younger colleagues are teaching themselves how to be great at what they do by following your example. One day they may find that they’ve taken the example you’ve given and made it their own in the same way you have done with those who came before you.