The other day, I attended a family function. Some young boy had become a man and as usual that was an occasion for us to drink and make merry.
One of my cousins called me to the side and said, “cousin, I need you to talk to my son. I need you to mentor him and give him advice.” This stunned me and I asked her, “what advice should I give him? On what subject?”
She said, “you have achieved great career success and I think you are the right person to talk to him.”
As flattering as these requests often are, I was somewhat tickled because how I wish they knew that sometimes I am not even sure which way my career is going.
Since I could not tell her about the intrigues in my career, I decided to play along and told her, “no problem, I will make time to speak to your son.”
I gave the young man the usual generic advice and told him, “you need to focus, work hard and do not get into bad company.” I was not sure if the advice was sinking in since the young man had this very blank look on his face and he kept looking at his phone, more interested in what his friends were saying than what I was telling him. I was quite relieved when our conversation ended half an hour later.
Speaking of career, I had an interesting conversation with a colleague the other day. William is my colleague who works in the HR department and we enjoy some level of camaraderie since we started work on the same day. He came into my office and said, “long time no see man!” I made some polite chatter about how I have been working hard and long hours.
I was frankly wondering why William had come all the way to my office to look for me. I did not have to wonder for much longer for he said, “my guy, I have been hearing some good stories about you.” This piqued my attention and I quickly said, “which ones? I have heard nothing? What have you heard?”
He then proceeded to tell me stuff about what he had “heard from reliable sources.” In a nutshell, there seems to be some talk in the company that I could be a candidate for “chief operating officer.” I told William, “but we do not have a COO.”
He replied, “yes, at the moment we do not have one, but the CEO wants to create that role and people think you are the best candidate for the role.”
This was news to me and I could not help but ask, “why would people think that?” I was not sure if William was buttering me up by making up praises for me.
He said that people think that I am, “strategically hard working” and the “boss likes you.” This sounded unbelievable and so I said, “what do you think William? What are my chances?”
I was surprised by his response. According to him, “you stand a good chance and I think you should stop playing small.” He went on to lecture me about how I “need to constantly raise up my hand up to take tough challenges instead of playing small.”
This baffled me because I thought double-hatting by holding two roles is raising my hand up and taking up challenges. I was not totally convinced about this new role but I decided to play along. I told William, “thanks for the feedback, what do I need to do to get the job?”
William had some interesting views on what I needed to do. He told me that I must, “spend more time with some of the members of the leadership team, read more management books and display the highest levels of professionalism.”
I did not want to tell him that I think that all these moves are sucking up so I listened and sounded positive as I told him, “thanks for your faith in me, I will give it my best.”
Despite my misgivings, a part of me was thinking that being COO might not be that bad at all.