By Published On: October 11th, 2018

How much of what you are doing at work comes easy to you? What percentage of your time are you spending feeling challenged to learn and grow? In this Inc. article, Jessica Stillman makes the case that we should strive to be challenged 70% of the time. In doing so, she cites serial entrepreneur Auren Hoffman.

One way people, especially more junior employees, underestimate themselves is by failing to spend most of their time on things that are really hard for them to do. All employees (not just entry level employees) should strive to have at least 70 percent of their time doing things that are really difficult. These are the tasks that require the most thought, rigor, and attention. And these are the tasks that result in the most growth.

Stillman points out that many jobs are not challenging to the job holder. Her invitation is to find ways to offload the non-challenging elements of the job in order to open up time to take on new (and challenging) work. If that is not possible, her recommendation is to “find a new job.”

Both Stillman and Hoffman acknowledge that the 70% target is hard to hit and sustain; I would agree with them both in terms of the nature of the work that we do as change practitioners, and in terms of our capacity to always be pushing the edge. That said, it is worth asking whether you are free skating with little if any challenge; speed skating, always on the edge; or somewhere in between. Unlike Stillman and Hoffman, I would not say that there is one “right answer” for all of us. And, I agree with them that striving for high levels of challenge is the only way to grow in your mastery, and to deliver the highest possible value to your clients.

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