At work, when you talk to others and you want to show your value to them, there are two ways you do that: By being a brick or by being cement.
I know. I come up with some pretty cool analogies.
Hear me out.
The Way Of The Brick
A brick has a well defined size and shape. It has weight and a well defined function. It’s good at what it does – very rarely can other bricks outbrick a brick.
When people approach value via ‘The Way Of The Brick’, they’re showing off how awesome they are at what they do. Nobody can even come close to doing their jobs the way they’re doing.
That’s probably true, too.
In many companies, there are a lot of bricks – people who are phenomenal at their craft and world class at their professions.
But, a stack of bricks cannot make a wall.
The Way Of Cement
To make a wall, you need cement. Cement’s nothing like a brick. It’s a powder. Try throwing it and you’ll end up playing construction grade holi – it’ll just disintegrate like a puff of smoke.
But, it’s cement that holds bricks together to form a wall.
When people approach value via ‘The Way Of Cement’, they’re looking at the big picture. They’re not out to show how big or important they are. They’re trying to get the bricks to come together and become bigger than they are.
When you demonstrate value via ‘The Way Of Cement’, you’re the general, commanding your forces. You’re there to make shit work. You’re there to move the needle.
Which One Do You Choose?
Honestly, you gotta do both. Early on in your career, you gotta be a brick. Put in the hard work and effort to be the best damn brick you can be. Always be learning and improving yourself.
Then, one day, usually around 5 years into your career, you’ll need to start acting like cement. You’ll need to go beyond your ‘professional’ expertise and invest in building relationships and networks that will multiply your efforts and ideas.
Slowly, your percentage of brickiness will go down and cementiness will go up. You’ll become less and less of a brick and more and more of cement.
And that’s how leaders are made.
Note: This post was written specially for my awesome li’l bricks at Jigsaw Academy – Sheru, Ima, Micaa, Chotu and Dabbie, just in time for appraisal season.