Velocity–or rate of change–is important in many different kinds of systems. While you need to know where you are, it is often even more essential to know how fast you are going and in which direction you are heading. When applied to human beings, this becomes Lyle’s Law of Becoming: What you are becoming is as important as what you are doing.
Taking care of what you are becoming may require some kind of continuing education, but it also demands something more. Just what it demands will vary from person to person, but there is a simple way to check your velocity. Start by asking yourself this simple question, “What can I do today that I couldn’t do a year ago?” If the answer is “nothing,” that would suggest that you are becoming just what you are today. And that’s probably not good enough. Your speed equals zero.
If, on the other hand, you can list some new skills, new capabilities, new relationships, you do have some speed. Now you can check your direction (the other component of velocity) by moving on to the second question, “Does anyone care?” or, more pointedly, “Will anyone pay me to use my new bag of tricks?” And then, “Will I like doing that?” If your answers to both are positive, hey! You’re on your way. If not, you need to take another look at what you are becoming. You may need some more education, or a job rotation, or to attend some conferences, or to get involved in your professional society, or…what? Whatever it takes to become what you want to become.
Don’t confuse this with goal setting. I know that a lot of career gurus advise you to set concrete goals and then to pursue them. I won’t quarrel with that technique, but I know a lot of highly successful people who didn’t have any specific goals, but who instead concentrated on just doing a great job, gaining a lot of diverse experience, and seeing what opportunities might pop up. In other words, they didn’t worry about where they were going, but they did watch what they were becoming.
Source: “Lyle’s Law of Becoming”
Original Publication: The Bent of Tau Beta Pi
Subject: On the Job Career Advice