Back when I was working on the GO Society’s book, Organization Design, Levels of Work and Human Capability: Executive Guide, I had the opportunity to spend an Sunday afternoon talking to Julian Fairfield in his early Monday morning. (I love talking to Australia!) He’s an amazing thinker with a wide ranging interest that started years ago on the shopfloor, moved through international consulting with McKinsey (including some of the work that became In Search of Excellence…)
Cut to the chase:
We’ve covered the work we needed to, and have moved on to my favorite topic, Hidden High Potentials, especially what they can do. He started talking about some work that he was doing in AsiaPac with a NGO. When he did his pitch for money, he could tell very quickly whether or not he should go any farther. If they were going to get it, they would get it in five or ten minutes, and those were the people who might give money.
And they often did.
It has to do with what Julian said later. “Higher stratum ideas always attract money,” he said, “because they provide an enablement vehicle for other people’s unarticulated visions.”
Well, that’s not entirely true. But it’s pretty true.
What are you trying to do with your career? Are you looking for a job? Or are you high enough that you should be providing the enablement vehicle for other people’s unarticulated visions?
If you are an overachiever, you are failing to live up to your true potential because you are overperforming in a role. You could be providing thought leadership in this way, creating a platform for other people to realize their visions, the ones that they didn’t have a name for until you started talking.
There’s a lot here to talk about. Warren Kinston’s ideas about domains of achievement languages come into play. As do the very different ideas of work domains in Luc Hoebeke’s Making Work Systems Better: A Practitioner’s Reflections. (See also my audio interview with Luc Hoebeke from 2007.)
But let’s stop here. You can do something that everyone else can’t. You can provide a vision of a reality that is large enough for other people to fit their visions into. It provides a name and naming is one of the most important parts of leading a creative enterprise.