If you are a regular visitor to Art of Procurement, congratulations! You recognized how important it is to have access to thought leadership. You’re not mired in the ways of legacy procurement. In fact, there are a few things you’d really like to shake up. You’re just trying to learn as much as you can so that you will be a success when the time comes to roll out your transformational plans.
In short, you are a superstar.
That’s the glossy version of your professional life. The reality is, if it were easy to be an overachiever, everyone would do it. It is exhausting to consistently outperform expectations and push the envelope on performance and capabilities. You work long hours and go far beyond your official job description. You think about work while you are waiting for traffic lights to change, while you are brushing your teeth, and while your next door neighbor is telling you all about their gutters.
It isn’t a weakness to admit that being a superstar is taking a toll on you. In fact, it may be the wisest thing you ever do. Make sure you protect yourself before you reach the point of burnout, or worse, ‘walk out’.
Invest in personal ‘sustainability’
It doesn’t matter how good you are on one day or during one project. Your true value is in the length of time over which you are able to keep generating above average returns. If the race is a marathon rather than a sprint, pacing yourself is critical. Do you really need to attend every meeting on your calendar? Is there a reason to accept so many supplier requests for your time? Identify the elements of professional ‘self-care’ that give you the energy and inspiration to keep going. It might be attending a conference (someplace nice) each quarter, leaving early one Friday a month, or indulging an interest that doesn’t 100% align with your current role. This time might not move the ball forward on your current projects, but it will give you the strength to go on… and on… and on…
If you coach or mentor, get a coach or mentor
You know the old saying about getting something done by asking a busy person? The same seems to apply to getting a mentor. The busiest, most visible people in the enterprise are the most sought after mentors, and that means you. It is an honor to be asked, and so you don’t say no, but sometimes it just feels like one more set of responsibilities on an already overflowing plate. Although it may seem like you’re further fracturing your time, getting a mentor of your own is the way to go. Not only will it help you keep looking ‘up’ career-wise, it will likely serve as a sobering reminder that the higher you go, the busier you get. The struggles you’re experiencing now are preparing you to take the next step forward professionally.
Rise Above the Tasks
Once there was an 18-wheeler stuck under an overpass. City engineers and firefighters were on the scene, trying to figure out how they were going to get the truck out without destroying it or damaging the structural integrity of the bridge. Naturally, this stopped traffic in both directions. One of the cars waiting for the road to reopen had a little girl in it. She asked why they didn’t just let the air out of the truck’s tires, lowering it enough to get it free. She wasn’t so insightful because she was a genius (probably). She was able to come up with a deceptively innovative and simple answer because her head wasn’t full of ‘stuff’. When our minds are focused on the million tasks before us, our higher-level thought processes are clouded. If you can, either delegate those tasks to others or allow yourself time to just think. I know, that’s easier to suggest than it is to do, (BELIEVE me, I know how hard that is), but if you can’t rise above the tactical to-do’s, you’re just stuck under a bridge waiting for help.
NASCAR doesn’t fill its cars with regular unleaded, and SpaceX doesn’t either. High-performance engines need a specialized kind of fuel to achieve top speed and performance along with advanced maintenance. If you’re moving in the fast lane, you need to do the same for yourself. A little bit of support and self-care can go a long way, increasing your results and your professional satisfaction over the long term.