Gov. Martin Henry Glynn with his secretary, Frank Tierney ca. 1913, By Bain News Service via Library of Congress

The Power of Mentoring (And Why You Didn’t Get It)

E. Forrest Christian Careers, Change, Motivation, Overachievers, Underachievers 6 Comments

[updated 2013 August 29] Did you ever think that the reason why you didn’t get a mentor was that it was almost impossible to mentor you? A good mentoring relationship requires you to share a growth trajectory in how you handle complexity. Most people’s capacity for handling complex work issues increases over time along predictable paths once in their 20s. …

ADLER typewriter Model n°7 (Frankfurt / Germany). Unknown model date (probably ~1930/40). By Dake

I Reply to Questions from “Underachievers”

E. Forrest Christian Careers, Underachievers 2 Comments

Let’s get to the many questions that “underachievers” have been asking me. Now I call them “underachievers” because these people think of themselves that way; they simply don’t yet understand how the world works and how the rules are different for them. Your job is bad for you not just because it’s not at the right level. It’s too small …

Gray cyborgs at DragonCon in Atlanta. (c) E. Forrest Christian

Role-Playing Games as a Metaphor for Your Work History

E. Forrest Christian Careers, Underachievers Leave a Comment

I spent months of my life working on this, bringing to full realization the many and varied lands, peoples and beasts of JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth! And I did not — not — do this so that five minutes into the game some players could, and I quote, “Open an evil can of hobbit butt-whup on those Rivendell pretty boys.” …

Lighthouse at night, (c) 2009 Martin Belam. Via flickr. (CC BY SA 2.0)

Get or Keep that Job You’re Over-Qualified For

E. Forrest Christian Careers, Underachievers 2 Comments

Let’s take another gander at how a hidden high potential can either get or stay in a that low-level job. It’s counter to prevailing advice you get, so you may want to pay attention. Before I start, I have to emphasize that I’m only talking about Hidden High Potentials (HHPs) and not Normal People. Normals give HHPs advice which is …

Young worker at the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad 40th street shops, 1942.

Getting that low-level job as a Hidden High Potential

E. Forrest Christian Careers, Underachievers 6 Comments

Sometimes when you’ve been the Hidden part of “Hidden High Potential” for way too long, you just want to find something that pays the bills. You look for a job, any job.

This is hard to do, even when times are good. When times are hard, it seems impossible.

Just ask Julie Neidlinger. She knows all about how hard it is to get a job when you’re grossly overqualified. The story she tells is an excellent example, because it’s such a common one to so many of you Hidden High Potentials. She went looking for an office job in the state with the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, lower than my region had during the good times.

I was looking for something Monday through Friday, normal business hours, regular paycheck, nothing retail or selling — I just want to be able to put aside money and rebuild my savings.

For some reason, in this type of work, I am not hireable. I do not know why.

So I’m going to tell her, and give some hints as to how she might be able to pull this off, and close with the core truths that are more useful.

Unclassified top secret document

Why You Can Tell Your Big Secret To Success (they won’t do it)

E. Forrest Christian Managing, Underachievers Leave a Comment

A few years back, I took on my first ISO 9001 project. An IT outsourcing company, then still in North America, wanted to certify the Desktop Support groups at each outsource contract in the world. You can apparently just do one site and certify the operations everywhere. Upper management gave them 90 days to complete the project. Just one quarter. …

Silver bullet

Why There Is Never Going To Be A Silver Bullet

E. Forrest Christian Careers, Decision-making, Underachievers Leave a Comment

There is no single, best way to solve business problems. Or career problems. Or project problems. Or marriage problems. Or any one type of problems. You’d think that more than two decades after Fred Brooks told us that, at least in software, we would know that there is no silver bullet. The reason is simple: Life is complex. Most of …

Flowing artesian well in the meadow near the *Laghi di Fusine-superiore*, Valromana, Italia. (c) 2009 Michael Gäbler (CC BY 3.0). Via Wikimedia Commons.

Imaginist, Systemicist, and Getting Myself Wrong

E. Forrest Christian Decision-making, Underachievers 4 Comments

In late November, while talking to my old partner about how the Seven Decision Making Approaches (or “languages of achievement”) are relevant to his current work problems, I suddenly realised something startling. For several years, I have been selling myself as either Imaginist or Empiricist, but delivering Systemicist results. The disconnect has been startling. It cleanly explains many of the …