“I can’t do that. I’m not a [fill in the blank].”
Have you ever used this excuse?
“I’m not a writer. I’m not an analyst. I’m not a finance person.”
While a professional specialization can take you far in your career, at a certain point, too narrow a focus will stall you.
This happens to almost everyone between the seven-and-10-year career mark. What starts as a positive mindset—staying on-task and protecting your time—can become too much of a good thing. You master your role, yes. But eventually, you grow bored. Then unsatisfied.
So how do you know when it’s better to stretch your mind and abilities versus staying in your lane to avoid distraction?
You’ll know. I promise.
Spend five minutes thinking about this quietly, and you’ll know.
In the Aesop’s Fable, The Bat and the Weasels, a bat gets caught by a mouse-eating weasel. The bat shows the weasel his wings in order to prove that he’s not a mouse.
“See? I’m a bird,” he says.
It works. The bat goes free.
Later, the bat gets caught by a bird-eating weasel. This time he uses his fur to prove that he’s a mouse.
Be that bat.
This guy is not too caught up in his identity to save his own life.
Save your work life!
If you’re starting to feel the vice grip of monotony at your job, it’s time to call attention to a part of yourself you don’t usually identify with. Your wings. Your fur. Your writing ability. Your eye for design. Your way with numbers. Your way with people.
Does the thought of doing this spark something in you?
Move towards it in a small way, with humility and an open mind. Taking on a new skill doesn’t have to cause an all-out identity crisis.
My guess is you are one-to-two easy conversations away from being trained on a new program, sitting in on a meeting you’re curious about, or writing a post on your company’s blog. Whatever it is.
Don’t let your job—the place where you spend 40% of your waking life—get boring! Be curious. Be flexible. Be the bat.