Don’t be Rambo, Be a Power Ranger
This is Day 2 of the 39 Days to a Better Job series, where we review actionable tips to make you better at your job.
If you want to be as good as you can at anything, you’re going to have to ask for help from other people. That’s why professional athletes have coaches that help guide them along as they perfect their craft.
You and I are no different.
We aren’t Rambo—out there trying to beat the world on our own. We should aim to be more like the Power Rangers or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: a group of unique individuals with specific skills that, when joined together, form an unstoppable team.
As lame as it sounds to hear someone say “be more like the Power Rangers,” hear me out.
In the real world, Rambo dies a quick death because he’s trying to do everything by himself. So let’s not fool ourselves into thinking we can beat the world all by ourselves, especially when we’re young and just getting started in our careers.
And anyway, right now we’re living in the golden era of communication and connectivity—so you need to take advantage of it.
The Power of Community
When I started doing Product Management work a few years ago, I had no idea what I was doing. I was a writer with no skills or training in PM-ing (or so I thought). But I was lucky enough to sit next to someone that was very good at it.
He guided me along my way, showed me when to fight for something and when to let things go. Without him, I’m not where I am today.
But I got lucky: I was sharing an office with this guy. What would’ve happened to me without him?
I probably would’ve failed at the new gig because I honestly did not know what I was doing.
But there is help out there, tons of it, and you should tap into it regardless of how confident you are at your job.
Talking to others and listening to their experiences will make you better at your job.
Read that line again…got it? Good. Now let’s take a look at how you can connect with other people.
Where to Go
The Internet is this vast, enormous place, so where should you start? It might take you some time, but you have to find a few sites where “your people” are hanging out and talking about things.
They could be anywhere:
- Forums (my favorite medium)
The medium matters less than the simple act of finding them and then joining in the conversation. I would start by searching for “best _______ forum” and “top ____ blogs.” From there you’ll figure out a way to track the people that matter in your field in whatever medium you prefer.
Personally, I like blogs and forums the best for this kind of thing.
My advice is to follow these steps before you start sending private messages and asking for help on any forum or blog (though these steps are mostly for forums—my preferred method of reaching out to others):
- Register: Most forums make you register to post. Do this now so people can you you’ve been around for a while, even if you’re not going to post just yet. Don’t forget to add your site to your signature!
- Lurk: Get to know the rules, the major players, and the topics to stay away from.
- Post: Now that you know your way around, you’re ready to start sharing your opinions. Start by replying to others’ and sharing your opinion on existing threads.
- All in: Now you’re ready to start your own threads and become a fully integrated member of the site.
Forums are powerful and can teach you new skills, so don’t take them lightly. This is the next best thing to sharing an office with someone that has 15 years experience in a field you’re relatively new to.
Visiting a forum and participating in the conversations that are happening will do two crucial things for you:
- Give you a place to continuously learn and keep your skills fresh.
- Give you a place to vent and ask questions when you hit a wall.
Image by kevin dooley