EG #15: Immersive Thinking
Don’t get caught in linear thinking about the complex system of your career.
You may be thinking, why Engineer’s Gate?
It’s the entry point to Central Park for the New York City marathon.
My favorite place & my favorite event to bring everyone together.
I’m a New Yorker, avid marathoner, and technical recruiter looking to give back to the city & industry that made me.
I moved to New York City for love on a $15 bus from Boston with 1 taped up suitcase to my name. Now I’m a successful business owner, wife, and mother with a mission to get you to a better place.
Each issue explores:
Reframe of a common interviewing & hiring scenario
Life in New York City
Running insight of the week
Join the journey.
What do I want from this job?
A simple, yet complex question to ask yourself about your current job or any new job you interview for this year.
Not every job will be your dream job. Let go of that illusion.
Every job can teach you something, make your skills more marketable, or make important personal connections for your future. You just have to look for it.
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Taking a step back to consider the whole picture of your career and how your jobs are interconnected requires a systems based thinking approach versus the linear thinking approach we learned in school and use daily at work. We’re encouraged to think in linear terms at school & work because it’s easier to manage. And easier to measure. We can show progress & metrics. In linear mode, we focus on finding 1 correct solution with clear, well defined steps in a particular order.
In contrast, systems based thinking involves considering the big picture and how different parts of a system fit together and influence one another.
Linear thinking hits limitations with complex, interconnected systems or when trying to anticipate the unintended consequences of a decision.
Your career is a complex system, yet we’re encouraged to think in linear terms about jobs.
Think about all the components that go into the system of your job now.
People: The individuals who are employed in the system and performing the tasks required by their job. Are these people you enjoy working with? Do you trust them?
Job roles and responsibilities: The specific tasks and responsibilities that each person in the system is expected to fulfill.
Policies and procedures: The rules and guidelines that govern the behavior and actions of the people within the system.
Tools and equipment: The physical resources that are used to perform the tasks required by the job.
Processes and workflow: The steps and procedures that are followed to complete tasks and achieve specific goals.
Communication channels: The ways in which information is exchanged between different parts of the system.
Management structure: The hierarchy and leadership structure that is in place within the system.
External factors: The elements outside of the system that can impact its functioning, such as changes in laws, regulations, or market conditions.
Any change in 1 of these 8 factors impacts your job.
Even if you’re happy at work right now, understanding why will help you evaluate any new jobs that open up during the course of 2023. What is it about the current system and components that you’re thriving in? Write it out. When any of the components change, you’ll now be equipped to handle what happens next with systems based thinking. If you are not aware of the systems around you and focus on step by step tasks thinking linearly, you’ll be left behind.
When you’re interviewing, understanding & communicating your overall career in a systems based way versus linear way gives the manager the whole picture to work with. It’s easier to compare their environment to yours. The conversation flows naturally.
Set yourself apart from the 80% of people interviewing in a linear fashion.
So what do you want from your job now?
Seek it out at your current company and outside the company. Test what system works best for you.
Don’t get caught in linear thinking about the complex system of your career.
Ancient Egypt holds a special place in my son’s interests. When National Geographic announced an immersive pop up experience to celebrate the 100th anniversary of discovering King Tut’s burial site, we were all excited to go.
This wasn’t a traditional museum style artifact display. It was a digital visual collage organized to take you through the international historical significance of the find, some treasures found, the process of mummification, and Tut’s journey to the afterlife.
I found this line of questions in the online guide interesting to think about:
The artifacts buried in King Tutankhamun’s tomb tell scholars a lot about Egyptian culture during his time. If someone visited your home or your room, what would your possessions tell them about you? What might they learn about your culture?
Take a moment to reflect on the stories and information you have been told about King Tutankhamun’s life. Do you think you have a full picture of his life? What is missing for you? What more do you want to know?”
The exhibit ended with a Virtual Reality experience inside Tut’s tomb. If this is the direction that education is going in, the potential is limitless.
We’ll have a much better understanding of history being immersed in it.
Kind of like immersion learning for a new language.
Imagine the possibilities.
Jan 1st was the last day for the New York City pop up, but there are others open across the US and in Canada right now. Check it out here.
Phase 1 of Chi Marathon Running is setting a vision..
Setting a “bridge between your current state and the vision you have for yourself.”
The first part is to do a personal assessment of where you are at physically, mentally, and emotionally.
The evaluation begins with creating a tool to coach yourself called “The Observer.”
“The Observer is part of yourself that simply takes in information without judging whether it’s good or bad.”
“When you’ve developed a strong Observer, you notice the pain [while running], and rather than seeing it as bad or scary or upsetting, you remain calm; you notice the twinge as a piece of information…The pain actually becomes a good thing as you recognize that is a message you needed to hear to improve your running technique.”
This was a new way of thinking for me. Going into training for my first race, the 2014 Chicago Marathon, I thought all I needed to focus on was my watch & pace. This deeper level of training the whole system unlocked running in a way I never thought of before. In my mind, what once was a sport reserved for super skinny, fast people who ran 100+ miles a week was now accessible to me. I could feel the same sense of accomplishment crossing the finish line, breaking through all the barriers that came up during training and on race day.
After cultivating this Observer, you then create a vision for yourself. “Without a strong vision of what you want, long hours of training could become hollow and empty. What the hell am I doing here? you might begin to ask yourself.” Similar to creating a strong vision for your career.
Your vision goes to the next level when you include your body instead of exclusively focusing on your mind. Systems based instead of linear. “Imagine how you will feel as you cross the finish line of the event. Don’t just think about it. Put yourself fully into the experience and allow your body to go through all the positive responses and emotions. Then take your vision and write a few intentions in a positive voice and in the present tense.”
The more senses you can involve, the better.
Writing it down makes it real.
What does that look like?
“I feel like I can accomplish anything.”
You can use this vision framework not only for running, but for your career too.
What do you want your job to be like mentally and emotionally? Don’t just look at the measurable tasks.
Unlock a different level of awareness.
Immerse yourself in the possibilities.
Let’s keep moving.
See you next week!
**All quotes from Chi Marathon by Danny Dreyer & Katherine Dreyer
Looks like someone at MIT agrees with systems based thinking as a key skill. Check out this free course https://learn-xpro.mit.edu/system-thinking-course-webinar