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.
Brian Gorman is the Managing Editor of Change Management Review™. In this capacity he regularly curates articles of importance to our readership; contributes original writing; hosts podcasts; and works with guest authors.
For more than five decades Brian has been engaged in—and a student of—change at the personal, organizational, and societal levels. During this time, he has worked with both individuals and organizations (ranging from solo practitioners to Fortune 100 businesses), guiding them through a wide array of challenges. Decades of experience have given him a deep appreciation of the universal patterns that underlie successfully navigating even the most difficult changes.
In addition to his work as our Managing Editor, Brian is a transformation coach, supporting both individual and organizational change. Brian is committed to passing his “lessons learned” on to others, so that their change journeys can advance more smoothly. He is a frequent workshop facilitator and public speaker. Brian is the author of “The Hero and the Sherpa,” a chapter in the online Handbook of Personal and Organizational Transformation (Springer Publishing; Judi Neal, Editor). He also has an extensive library of blog posts, articles, and videos on the change journey, including “The Ten Most Important Lessons I Have Learned Over 50 Years of Engaging Change.”
Mr. Gorman’s formal education includes a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Syracuse University, an MA in Higher Education Administration from the University of Texas, San Antonio and an MA in Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma.
Brian is an International Coach Federation (ICF) certified coach, and is an active member in the New York City chapter. Brian is also a member of the Forbes Coaches Council and the Gay Coaches Alliance.
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