**The numbered tips in this blogpost were excerpted verbatim (with one small edit for clarity in tip #2) from an Academy Ocean interview conducted by marketing manager, Diana Digi, with Professor Dave Ulrich, Rensis Likert Professor at the University of MIchigan's Ross School of Business. You can find the full interview here. This post shares those tips along with some of my personal insights and thoughts.
RUNNING UP SAND DUNES
Have you ever tried to run up a sand dune?
And I can tell you it’s hard.
Every step is a slog.
And for every step you do manage to take, you inevitably end up sliding back down a little.
All of this isn’t to say you won’t get to the top of the sand dune (eventually).
You probably will.
But it can be tough-going, depending on the size of the dune.
And could take a long time.
So, what’s the deal with sand dunes and trying to run up them?
And more to the point, what does it have to do with your career?
Don’t run up sand dunes is the second of seven career tips offered in the Academy Ocean interview mentioned above with renowned Ross School of Business professor, Dave Ulrich, who HR Magazine named the “Father of Modern HR.”
I hope you’ll find these seven tips helpful, whether you're at the start of your professional life or about to begin a new chapter.
PROF. ULRICH CAREER TIP #1:
“Focus on what is easy, energizing, and enjoyable…three criteria for a good job.”
My Take: Sounds simple, right? But a lot of things can get in the way of making reasonable choices that make your career path (and life) easier.
PROF. ULRICH CAREER TIP #2:
"Don’t run up sand dunes…figure out what you can and cannot easily do and do it.”
Prof. Ulrich continues: “I would like to have played professional sports, but…can’t jump, not coordinated, and not competitive enough.”
My Take: First, the image is super powerful because it paints such a vivid picture. Hence, the headline. But this visual also makes me think about how to allocate my energy and time. Slogging up a sand dune saps both.
PROF. ULRICH CAREER TIP #3:
“Start at the top of the food chain…it is easier to move down than up. This means to get good grades, so you have a choice about where to go to graduate school, go to the best graduate program possible…opens doors.”
My Take: I think make Tip #3 work, you have to take to heart Tips #1 and #2. Making good grades isn’t necessarily easy. And when you’re in high school, you don’t to have much, if any, latitude when it comes to the classes/courses you take. You have to take things like math, science, reading, etc. Some of these you’ll be good at. Perhaps others less so.
But once you start considering college, you start to encounter choices. It’s probably pretty sensible to choose a school (and a major) that taps into some bona fide ability and genuine interest.
One route to take is Professor Ulrich’s 3E route: pick something easy (you’re good at), energizing, and enjoyable.
👋 Find this content helpful? Please make sure to check out Prof. Ulrich’s full interview with Diana Digi, Marketing Manager at Academy Ocean. And not only that, make sure and tune in to our upcoming interview with Prof. Ulrich this Thursday, March 31st @12:30 PM EST on our new LinkedIn Live broadcast called The Genetics of Leadership, co-hosted by Lisa-Marie Hatcher and Dan Edds. We’re already at 175+ registrants from practically every corner of the globe across an array of industries. We’re going to talk Prof. Ulrich about Next Gen Leadership and Culture. You can sign up right here.
PROF. ULRICH CAREER TIP #4:
“Relationships matter more than products…nurture good relationships with people who will come back later to help you.”
My Take: 100%. Nothing really to add here except those relationships are the secret sauce to building your personal or professional brand, especially on social media.
PROF. ULRICH CAREER TIP #5:
“Learn, learn, learn…What worked? What did not? Why? How could I have done that differently? What would I do next?”
My Take: Spot on. Learning (for me) is about two things: humility and mindset. It’s hard to learn if you think you know all. You need humility to realize that you, in fact, don’t know it all. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says it well: “don’t be a know-it-all, be a learn-it-all.” You can read more about Satya Nadella and other leaders in our book, Win With Decency and you can read an excerpt here.
PROF. ULRICH CAREER TIP #6:
“Do hard things…find something that stretches you and makes you learn—not all the time, but it gets you out of your comfort zone and opens doors.”
My Take: At first glance, this might seem contradictory based on the first tip to do things that are easy. But I think it’s when you choose things that are easy, energizing, and enjoyable, that you’re able to push yourself and stretch.
PROF. ULRICH CAREER TIP #7:
“When in doubt, try it…what is the worst thing that can happen to me? Ask this and move on.”
My Take: Yes. Don’t wait for everything to be perfect to try stuff. Prof. Ulrich addresses this very point in another article that you can find here. I would add as a corollary to not only try things but to test them.
I have two final takeaways inspired by the Academy Ocean interview with Prof. Ulrich:
The first is to remember the power of self-awareness. It’s not easy. But it’s not easy in a way that will ultimately foster growth.
The second is to be accountable to joy. Your joy. It’s hard to block out the noise and allure of things that are seemingly prestigious or lucrative—but you’ll be less likely to find yourself running up sand dunes if you’re accountable to joy (your joy)—and if things like prestige and money are outcomes, not pursuits.
👋 If you found this content helpful, check out Prof. Ulrich’s full interview with Diana Digi, Marketing Manager at Academy Ocean and tune in to our upcoming interview with Prof. Ulrich this Thursday, March 31st @12:30 PM EST on our new LinkedIn Live broadcast called The Genetics of Leadership, co-hosted by Lisa-Marie Hatcher and Dan Edds. We’re already at 175+ registrants from all around the world across various industries. We’re going to talk Prof. Ulrich about Next Gen Leadership and Culture. You can sign up right here.