An Ancient Story About the Value of Hidden High Potentials

E. Forrest Christian Careers, Overachievers, Underachievers Leave a Comment

This is a followup to my earlier post (“Transitions Are Like Being Lost In The Pacific“) on high potentials and the number of transitions they go through in life, and how that increases their risk for massive failures. Here’s a story about a high potential who screwed up and failed completely.

Ah, yes. We come to your typical remark from a pragmatist CEO of a mid-sized firm. Although this cigar-chomping associate is a caricature in walking flesh, the opinion is shared by others. Lots of others. I can go into the psycho-sociological explanation for these opinions but instead, let me tell you a story from another land (I live in the U.S.) that I first heard years ago. It shows why I believe in hidden high potentials (HHPs), and although the story is somewhat dated, it shows what happens to HHPs even today.

Once upon a time, in a land far away, there were two types of people living in the same country. One dominated the economic, social and political life. It’s fair to say that they ran everything. The other type of people were a different ethnicity. Like many minorities before and since, during hard times they found themselves getting the shaft from the ruling ethnic group. But they persevered. Let’s call the ruling ethnic group “Greens” and the oppressed minority, “Blues”.

Now the Greens ran a country that was the envy of the entire world. All the nations acknowledged their power. Indeed, the land of the Greens was mighty and all their neighbors feared their great might and learning. This great wealth and learning did not trickle down to the Blues, however,

One of these Blues, a young man we can call “Fred” — old names from far away are hard to pronounce, don’t you think? — who by a stroke of good fortune found himself adopted by a rich and powerful Green family. His face and color was not quite as blue as other Blues, and he could successfully pass as a bluish Green.

"Black Dog being chased from the Admiral Benbow Inn by Captain Billy Bones" by N.C. Wyeth. From Treasure Island, 1911 (cropped)

Top Reasons Why High Potentials Have To Do Things Different For Job Security

E. Forrest Christian Careers, Coaching, Overachievers, Underachievers Leave a Comment

If you are a Hidden High Potential (HHP) and you never hear anything else from me, memorize this statement: What is safe for other people is dangerous for you; what is guaranteed to fail for most people is what’s most likely to succeed for you. Or, as Pippin in the Two Towers movie put it: The closer we are to …

Leaving Yongsan Station. (c) Danleo (CC BY 2.5). Via Wikimedia Commons.

Becoming the Enablement Vehicle for Others’ Unarticulated Desires

E. Forrest Christian Careers, Coaching, Overachievers, Underachievers Leave a Comment

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 …

The April 12 launch at Pad 39A of STS-1, just seconds past 7 a.m., carries astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen into an Earth orbital mission (STS-1. 1981). NASA

Best Secret For Succeeding When You’re “Smart”

E. Forrest Christian Careers, Coaching, Overachievers, Underachievers 2 Comments

t being August, I thought it a good time reiterate the most useful piece of coaching I can give you: do you what you’re good at doing.

It seems so simple that feels almost insulting to receive as advice: Do what you’re good at. It seems like such a truism.

Except that so many high potentials just don’t see it.

Smedberg: Illustration from "Boy who was never afraid"

Reduce Career Risk By Moving Closer To Danger

E. Forrest Christian Careers, Coaching, Overachievers, Underachievers Leave a Comment

There’s a reason why I talk about so many different ways of looking at your career, things like Levels of Work, the 7 Languages of Achievement, domains of work, and even personality differences. It’s all about helping you stop making career decisions that have almost no chance of working. For you. Because, you see, what’s risky for most people is …

Benito Mussolini conciona la folla in Piazza Duomo a Milano, nel maggio 1930-Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-09844 / CC-BY-SA

Is Your Boss Really Evil or Simply Overwhelmed?

E. Forrest Christian Careers, Underachievers Leave a Comment

You boss might not be Benito Mussolini like you think, regardless of how much he resembles him when he lectures the team. I have really enjoyed Mary’s comments on these thoughts on how underachievers (overachievers) can get right fitting work. About my last post (“Knowing Who You Are Can Get You Out of Underachievement“, she wrote: When I read “Underachievers, …

Traffic signal at Tamil Nadu. (c) 2011 Thamizhpparithi Maari (CC BY SA 3.0)

Integrity Will Get You Promoted, But Limited Vision Will Get You Fired

E. Forrest Christian Careers, Managing, Reviews - Articles Leave a Comment

Elliott Jaques talks about time span of discretion — the time from a decision to when that work decision comes due — as a way to measure how “big” a role is. This is related to your personal time horizon, how far you can think into the future to handle uncertainty and complexity. Lots of people disagree with it. What’s …

The Great Ravenna Boulevard Sinkhole, 1957. Seattle Municipal Archives (CC BY 2.0)

SUCBAR With All Your Might! How to Screw Up your Career Beyond All Recognition

E. Forrest Christian Careers 2 Comments

Are you a young, high-potential? Do your coworkers roll their eyes when you try to talk about something you see as a risk down the road? Do you tell yourself “Sometimes you have to do things that you don’t want to do” to justify staying in your position? Does your job bore you silly?

Then you might already be well on your way to screwing up your career beyond all recognition!

“The Fearless Executive” by Alan Downs: a quick book review

E. Forrest Christian Reviews - Books Leave a Comment

Alan Downs is a very successful executive coach who has worked the inside of a large corporation himself. He is even the author of an intriguing memoir of sorts about axing huge numbers of the employees for the corporation. The Fearless Executive rejects the very premise of the title: there are no fearless executives, only executives who face and work …