“The only source of knowledge is experience.” – Albert Einstein
No, we are not asking you to flash your “assets” at your colleagues. Nor are we challenging you to put your life in occupationally hazardous situations that endanger you.
We are talking about the art of exposing yourself at work. In doing so, be mindful that there needs to be a balance so we do not come across as an arrogant know-it-all or, at the other end of the spectrum, as someone who is ignorant of many things.
“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” – C. S. Lewis
Often times, people who have “been there, done that” are eager to showcase what they have under their belt with others; sometimes even when they are not asked to.
Here are some tips if you are overexposing at work:
• Share instead. There is a difference between showcasing one’s skills and sharing them. The former is inwardly imposing while the latter is outwardly to impart knowledge to others.
• Stay humble. When asked about being in such a reputable position, Bill Gates, the software genius and billionaire, credited his father by saying, “You can get a sense of self-importance. But Dad’s the best at making sure that no matter what we’re doing, we stay humble.”
• Step back. Do not assume everyone has the same level of exposure as you. So, pause to bring others along in your thinking process and ideas.
“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
Do not let anyone look down on you because you are inexperienced. Metaphorically, we can become butterflies and explore the beauty of nature if we want to. So, make a choice to break free from your cocoon and spread your wings.
“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long-run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” – Helen Keller
If you are underexposing at work:
• Step out and start. Take the first step to try something new, like speaking in public. It may be daunting initially, but things get easier with practice.
• Travel and learn. Traveling widens our perspective and increases knowledge. By experiencing other customs and cultures firsthand, we learn to respect and accept others at work.
• Meet people and observe. Challenge yourself to connect with people as there are always interesting insights from their life experiences. Dr Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group, recently wrote, “You should get to know people from every income level and understand their worlds.”
The gist of it is there is a time for everything under the sun. By learning the how, when and where, you expose yourself respectfully and honourably at work.
“Exposure from a young age to the realities of the world is a super-big thing.” – Bill Gates