On context

not particularly creative, but reliable hard worker

too creative to be integrated into the corporate environment

What images do you have in your mind, what associations to you have about somebody fitting description one? Description two? Well, they are the same person. It is me, in fact. These were 2 bits of feedback I received. From two different people, and, what is key here, in two different organization (same industry, similar roles).

Given that I didn’t have a brain transplant (not that I’d remember…), I am attributing some of this difference to context. This is important. Feedback is obviously key to how we grow. It also gives a pretty good indication what is valued in a specific organization and where you are relative to that (or how you sell yourself, but that’s for another blog post). In a weird way, both statements are false, and they are also true. And they say as much about the organization as they say about me.

We don’t exist in a vacuum and we don’t perform and collaborate and produce fruits of our labour in a vacuum either. And for the most part, that is a good thing. What your colleagues, key stakeholders and your boss thinks about you matters. And we all want to contribute, and want to be seen for who we are and what we can do. What also matters is getting a few additional opinions as you are thinking about how you are doing. Good relationships with former bosses work wonder, as does a network (a good idea in any case). People who know you in different environments. Your brother. Your old friend from uni. The person you are volunteering with.

Gather all feedback gifts, and then you can start weighing and forming your own picture.

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