You might think you can’t have too much of things such as preparation, excellence or creativity if you hope to achieve job success and have a fulfilling, long-term career. However, according to a recent article by Anne Fisher, called “Too much of a good thing can stall your career,” that’s not the case. It’s a thought-provoking concept, based on a new book titled Tipping Sacred Cows: Kick the Bad Work Habits that Masquerade as Virtues, by Jake Breeden.
Sounds to me like a book worth reading, even if you’re not much concerned at this point about job success–but especially if you are.
You can push a trait to a certain point and achieve great success with it. However, if you fail to recognize when to stop or slow down a bit, your actions could block further progress. Worse, they could sabotage your career success as well as your current job situation. They can certainly stand in your way unless you recognize the problem. As the article mentions: “‘When leaders embrace beliefs without understanding and managing the potential side effects, the beliefs become sacred cows,’ Breeden writes. Like the wandering herds that clog the streets of Japiur, they get in the way of progress.”
One of the traits talked about in the article (and the book) is excellence. At first glance, you might wonder how in the world you could be guilty of carrying excellence too far. Think a minute, though. Have you ever encountered–or had the misfortune to work with or for–someone for whom perfection was the ultimate goal and nothing short of it was worth achieving? Someone like that can make life miserable for everyone around and block real progress at the same time.
Consider this related point: Good quality is important, and a firm focus on it could be viewed as essential to success. Clearly, if you don’t value quality in your job performance–the results you achieve for your company–you risk disaster. On the other hand, if you focus intently on quality-at-all-costs, the product you are trying to transition to manufacturing and from there to the marketplace might not be manufacturable at a reasonable price-point or might need to be sold for a price few customers would be willing to pay.
It’s obviously not always easy to tell if one of your assets has become a liability, which is necessary if you’re going to have a crack at correcting the situation. When we’re too close to something, we often don’t see it for what it is. Sometimes it takes an outside observer–hopefully, someone who is both knowledgeable and reasonably objective–to help us see the problem. However, as Fisher’s article points out, Breeden offers a short–and free–personality assessment (21 questions) that can help you identify those situations in your experience.
I took a look at the quiz, and although the site says the quiz usually takes about 4-5 minutes, I’m thinking it might take some people (including me!) a bit longer than that. The choices aren’t necessarily easy in some cases. However, taking the quiz could prove informative and worthwhile, even if all it does is cause you to think a bit more deeply about what you are doing or not doing, and why that could be a help or a hindrance in your career advancement.