Thursday, March 24, 2005

Are you proud of what you do?

My colleague Paul and I took over the Barkley Evergreen and Partners Public Relations internship program. Under new management, we've re-branded and refocused the program to reflect our firm and our philosophy. We renamed it the Mentorship Program both to distinguish its differences from the sea of internship opportunities available and to have it clearly state the program's purpose. We changed the collateral used to promote the program and reached out to the area colleges and universities to attract potential interviewees.

The entire process has been a great learning experience and I expect it to be rewarding as classes of participants move through the program. The biggest learning experience I've gained is due to a question I've asked of each candidate: What have you done in the past year that you are most proud of?

What I thought would be a nice ice-breaking inquiry (no wrong answers) ended up being one of the make-or-break questions I posed. In fact, there really is a wrong answer: "umm, hmmm, my proudest moment?" After a couple people scrambled to find something to cite, I decided this question should be a filter for everyone to use in relation to their personal and professional pursuits.

What have I done in the past year that makes me proud? What have I done at work this week that I am proud of? A seemingly easy question birthed a personal reflection of what I do at home and at work, and whether I'm proud of myself for doing it.

Pride breeds happiness. Pride breeds better work. Pride produces memories. On the flipside, lack of pride is an energy and talent suck.

I decided the first step is to look at moments of pride in the past and what caused them. My answer: challenging environment, unfamiliar territory and the opportunity to use my unique skills and experiences. Those have been the steadfast settings for moments of pride.

How can I create those settings again?
1) Place myself in an environment of opportunities that challenge my skills and promote aspects of my personality that I value.
2) Surround myself with smart, innovative people who have high demands of me.

The next step is actually doing something to promote moments of pride. That in itself will be something to be proud of.


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