HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A SPORTS CHAMPION WITHOUT A COACH?
It is quite fascinating that every sportsman has a coach, yet we are often on our own in difficult, complex tasks. Tasks that are hard to figure out and are impacting organizations, people’s life, and business in general. Yes, I am talking about your career, and especially a career in the IT business. If you do a research, you will realize that all big names had their mentors by their sides: Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs, etc. For hundreds of years, people have learned the occupation by shadowing their masters.
Yet somehow it is basically non-existing in the complex IT management. Say, you want to become a Chief Technology Officer (or you have just become a CTO, or maybe your company is growing significantly) and you are basically on your own, with so many complex tasks on your plate. These tasks involve everything from leadership, people management, evaluation of the processes and structures, to strategic thinking, tactics, and technology, all of them being a huge emotional and mental stretch – all at once.
The path is never easy and over the years, I could see other people hitting the same roadblocks that I had had to go through before. I have always been wondering if it was truly necessary – couldn’t we simply source from each other’s experiences and learn? If those people reached out, I could have helped them get the results they wanted faster. They could have saved their time on making the same mistakes that I had made before. Be it mentoring CTOs on organizational design and leadership or execution strategy and delivery. Be it coaching project managers on becoming freelancers. Or even explaining to an aspiring product designer what their options are, how to plan a career depending on their needs, what are the benefits and downsides of corporations versus startups… You name it.
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO REINVENT THE WHEEL
I have observed this lone-wolf approach over the years, wondering why so many choose to go on their own. Is it ambition, shyness or maybe something else? So, I naturally thought about my path. Just like everyone, I have also had my ups and downs. But I observed that one thing has always worked for me very well: building long-lasting relations with people in various positions and areas. Therefore, whenever I had a tough time, I could, without disclosing confidential details, brainstorm with different people around me and understand what my options are. It has always involved inviting someone external, honest, and direct for a conversation. In a perfect scenario, someone who has already done the very same thing I was trying to do. Thanks to that I could grow faster, with fewer pitfalls. I have never regretted reaching out and always benefited from it a great deal.
So, my advice to you would be, find someone ahead of you and listen to them with an open mind, and apply their guidance. Many people might feel it would be somewhat almost like cheating, thinking: “I didn’t do it on my own.” That is totally wrong. The fact of the matter is, humanity develops because generations learn from one another, and by that, they save time for improvements. Nobody needs to reinvent the wheel. It has already been invented, so go ahead and use it.
The long and short of it is that you really do not need to be a lone wolf. Save the energy and the time for other tasks. Learning from other people’s experiences will help you grow faster and evolve. Build upon it and make the world a better place.
Maciej Robert Gudan
Maciej’s passion is career mentoring and helping CTOs make the next step, grow their organizations successfully, prepare for transformations and successful deliveries, and set up distributed organizations. He shares his experience from working in various roles in global startups, corporates in Poland, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Gibraltar, building R&D organizations, defining technical and product strategy, and delivering complex projects.