I remember when my wife and I had just graduated from college and were beginning our careers. I was a consultant and she was a middle school teacher. We were both filled with optimism and enthusiasm. We had the potential to change the world.
As a teacher, she was learning new approaches to education and couldn’t wait to start applying them. We went to my home town for the weekend to visit my parents around that time. At my parents’ church, we ran into one of my teachers from middle school who was near retirement. He and my wife got into a conversation about these new teaching approaches.
He flippantly laughed them off. “Oh, every few years or so, they come up with newfangled techniques to teaching. But they never last long.”
My wife was disappointed in his response. She wanted to try these new approaches and learn about new ways to teach. She thought he was just cynical from too many years of teaching.
Fast forward twenty-five years to the present day. Common Core is the latest in education. And if you heard my wife talking about it, you would think we were back in my parents’ church hearing my old middle school teacher.
I’ll admit that Common Core is one of the most controversial educational initiatives in the history of teaching. But I also recognize some of the same defiance and cynicism that I’ve heard from many generations.
Stay ahead of the curve
Every industry faces new approaches and practices. Consulting, often the industry that introduces those new approaches, also needs to deal with them in their own industry.
In 2010, when the Affordable Care Act was passed, consulting had to make adjustments to be able to advise and help the health care industry work in this new world. It didn’t matter what your politics were, if you wanted to be successful in health care consulting, you had to figure out how it would all work.
Laws change all the time. Economic and political shifts take place that require all industries to adjust and adapt new practices. Consultants have to always be ahead of the curve on any changes. They need to adapt so that they can help their clients adapt.
An open mind
To be that flexible requires an open mind. In the education industry, they’re always trying new teaching techniques. Some work well. Some fail miserably. Regardless of the outcome, there is always some form of fallout. With experience, they remove the bad parts from the things that succeed. They hopefully retain some good things from the failed approaches.
But you don’t succeed unless you try something new. You learn what works and what doesn’t and hopefully, you improve as you go.
Constant renewal at all levels
While this works in industries that are trying to improve, it also works at a personal level. Our society has a tendency to ostracize failure. From political figures to sports stars, anyone that fails is publicly ridiculed.
But if you never fail, you’re probably just not trying hard enough. You have to take chances, try new things and learn from the failures in order to learn and grow.
Criticizing and avoiding failure is a surefire way to stay right where you are with no growth. Taking chances and gaining valuable experiences will get you ahead. Even if you face some criticism from others for failing.
What failures have you experienced that helped you grow?
As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.
If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com
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