Thursday, January 31, 2008

Am I INSANELY Useful? had a great post on How to Make Yourself INSANELY Useful. The 13 tips are great. But what do YOU do with those tips? Do you read them and toss them away? Do you evaluate yourself against them? Do you agree/disagree and move on? Do you make action lists to improve?

Me, when I read lists like this, I like to evaluate myself and see if there is anything I should do to improve myself. Of course, I have to decide if I agree or disagree with each item, because if I don't agree with what is being suggested, I can't try to do it. This offers me an opportunity to evaluate why I have my beliefs though. Think about that for yourself. Do you have your beliefs because of tradition, religion, or experience? I'm not questioning any of your beliefs, and I don't even care if you change them, but every now and then you should inspect them closely to be sure you understand them.

Here's me evaluating myself on the 13 tips.
  1. Share what you know: I love to share what I know. I blog, and commit application specific knowledge that I have to a wiki at work. I agree that useful people share what they know. Secrets make one less useful, and more annoying when a problem arises, because nobody else can fix it.
  2. Be confident in yourself: I agree, useful people must be able to exude confidence, or I won't want to follow them, in any capacity. However, be wary of crossing the line to cocky. I've been accused myself of being cocky when I only ever thought I was confident. I have overcome some major personality perception issues to fit into the confident, but not cocky category, finally.
  3. Solve the current problem: I try hard not to figure out why the problem occurred, and to focus on the issue at hand, but I admit that I jump to judgment quickly in cases. Action: Be more conscious about judgment of situations.
  4. Give Willingly: I agree, people who are open to helping me, no matter what they have going on are the people that I go back to frequently. I want to be that guy myself, so I already do what I can to happily help anytime someone needs it.
  5. Satisfy your own curiosity: I'm up in the air on this. I believe that to be a useful person you have to know a lot of things, and it helps to be a naturally curious person. However, satisfying almost no curiosity won't help make you more useful. So be more curious, and constantly strive to satisfy that curiosity. Another way to state it is, constantly learn. Which I do.
  6. Listen to others: I do a much better job of this than in the past, however, listening is a skill that I still could practice more on. I have a natural impatience, that tends to come out as sometimes partially ignoring what others are saying when they talk. It's never that I look down on the people, my mind just wanders. Action: Meditate more to practice being in the present.
  7. Don't take over: I completely agree again. Plus this is another thing that I have struggled with in the past. I have been focusing in the past 2 years a lot more on teaching than doing, and I have done well, but still have a long way to go. Action: Continue working on teaching.
  8. Know when to stop: I agree. Knowing when to stop combines Don't Take Over, with Focus on the immediate problem. Once I have helped solve the immediate problem I stand back and ask if there is anything else they want to know or have help with. I don't want to just walk away, but I do a good job at stopping so the other person can get back to practicing and learning to improve themselves.
  9. Teach, don't tell: This again is very similar to don't take over. See above for my thoughts on it.
  10. Be sensitive to people’s feelings and shortcomings: You may think with my tendency to be impatient I would have a huge problem here. I don't however, and I think it's due to being on the wrong side of most comments growing up. I'm very sensitive to other's insecurities and fears. I do my best to not only be sensitive to them, but to build them up and focus on their strengths. Everyone has strengths, and even if I am strong in the same area, that doesn't mean I won't do what I can to reinforce their ego by playing to their strengths.
  11. Ask for help: See my answer to 10, they are so closely related, it's not worth listing again.
  12. Model best practices: I completely agree, and have had many conversations with friends about leading by example. I even use this when I'm explaining to my older kids why they have to act better than their younger siblings.
  13. Be reliable: Too many times I've had someone in my life that would make empty promises. At one time I got really bent out of shape over this. Now I know who not to trust. Promises from some people mean nothing. I don't want to be one of those kinds of people. If I say I can help, I help, I do everything I can to be available and follow through on what I agreed to.

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