The following post is based on a true story of a walk my son and I took one evening a few weeks ago. It is meant to inspire you to focus more on the things that matter most to you in your career and your life.
Not Your Average Walk
My five-year-old son has a lot of energy, so every so often after dinner, he and I will take a long walk along a path that we have dubbed “the Secret Passageway.” A few weeks ago, while out for our walk, we saw something that was both scary and eye-opening.
As we neared a river on our route, we heard screams from two young girls. When we got to the river, we saw a large shaggy dog in the water chasing two geese back and forth. A family of four was walking their dog, and he had taken off when he saw the geese and leapt into the river.
So what, dogs swim, right? Right; however, this dog was so focused on catching the geese, he had blinders on to everything else around him, including his family members running up and down the banks of the river screaming. There was no way the dog was going to catch the geese—in fact, they were just playing with him, jumping over him back and forth. He was getting tired, and as I watched, I realized he was literally going to drown in the effort to catch these geese. Finally, a man who lived nearby jumped in, grabbed the dog, and pulled him to safety.
What Are You Ignoring?
Just as dogs are really good at swimming, many engineers are really good at engineering, but at what expense? I have coached many engineers over the years, and they tend to get so wrapped up with projects, clients, and deadlines that they ignore other things, like their own personal development and their families.
There is no doubt that in order to succeed as an engineer, you need to work hard and be dedicated to your projects and your clients, but again, at what cost? Even if you do “catch the goose,” or finish your project, there will be 10 more waiting right behind it.
So I ask you, what you are ignoring?
How Will You Notice This and Make a Change?
When you are so focused on something, like this dog was, you tend to block everything else out. How will you get yourself out of this situation?
For one thing, I hope this article will force you to examine where you are spending your time and energy and whether you are doing so effectively.
Secondly, ask people. Ask colleagues, friends, family members. Are there other things that you should be focusing on? Maybe you should delegate some of your project tasks and take a course on public speaking or business development? Maybe you should try to leave the office early one day and have dinner with your family?
My Challenge to You
Consider this post a challenge to you to figure out how you can start to focus more on the things that matter. Again, I am in no way saying that your engineering projects don’t matter—they do! However, they shouldn’t consume you completely.
In the Institute for Engineering Career Development (IECD), a community I am building of the 300 most motivated engineers in the world, we will have a call this fall dedicated to this topic. If you are interested in joining the community, contact me and we can discuss it.
No matter what you do, don’t doggy paddle until you drown. Stop yourself now!
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success