Who are you? A simple question with a very complicated answer. You are a human. You are a son or a daughter, a husband or a wife, a father or a mother, a student, a teacher, a neighbor, a manager. You may have several different roles that you play in your life. Each of them contributes to who you are. Some of them are applicable only for some phases of your life. Some of them are more lasting. To be completely satisfied with your life, you need to be satisfied with what you do in each of your roles.
If you ignore one of the roles, it may prevent you from being happy also in your other roles. If you, for example, define yourself only as a manager and ignore that you are also a husband or a wife, you are creating an imbalance. Since you would put all your energy and effort behind one of the roles, it may bring you more success and satisfaction, but in the long-term, the other roles will suffer, and it won’t create lasting happiness.
Highly Valued Accomplishments
This brings us to Highly Valued Accomplishments (HVAs). It is a tool that can help you find out what is important to you in each role and why. Let me show how highly valued accomplishments look like on my example. I will use one from the workplace, but you can do the same for every role you have. This one in particular is coming from my early days in management. Back then, it was a big deal for me, even though it may seem trivial today after years in business. Please, ignore the technical jargon. I’m sure you will have your own when creating your HVAs.
Running Industry-Wide Project for GSM Association
[What happened] The GSM Association is a trade body of mobile operators and companies in the broader mobile ecosystem. The GSMA represents its members via industry programs, working groups, and industry advocacy initiatives. Between 2005 and 2007, I represented Siemens in GSMA SIP/IMS Technical Expert Group & Trial Management Group. Due to my active participation, I was asked to act as a Campaign Manager of the GSM Association OMA PoC campaign. It was a six-month-long project that required me to coordinate activities of around 20 companies from the telecommunications industry. The focus was to test interoperability between mobile phone vendors, network providers, server vendors, and telecom operators.
[How it happened] The project required me to negotiate participation with several mobile phone operators to provide the infrastructure, mobile devices, and applications. Then I built a project plan and managed the setup and execution of the tests. I had backing from the GSM Association leader and the strong support of several of the mobile network operators.
[Results] I was able to gather enough participants from the industry to have a meaningful interoperability trial. The team was able to get the project accomplished as planned even though we were constantly running into technical obstacles because every vendor had a slightly different implementation of the tested protocols and technologies. The campaign was successful, and in October 2006, I held a presentation in front of the industry representatives at the 3GSM World Congress in Singapore.
[Why it is notable] I was a very junior manager back then, and this was a significant accomplishment that very few people in the industry could claim they had done. I was able to get cooperation from companies and people who had no direct incentive to cooperate since all the vendors were also competitors on the market. I managed a project that involved people from across several continents and different cultures.
[Why is it important to me] It was an opportunity to use my people and project management skills. I found that I can have a huge impact on the world without having a big team. The project was way out of my comfort zone. It required a huge amount of interactions with people from all around the world and negotiating tough agreements. I also realized that to be satisfied, I need to see other people be successful, learn something new myself, and build something for others to use.
Let’s analyze the highly valued accomplishment you just read and pose the questions needed for you to build your own list of HVA stories:
[What happened] Any story needs a background and description of the main characters. If you want to use HVAs to analyze your role and potentially use them in mentoring sessions or interviews, it is good to set the context. What is the context in which you accomplished the work? Can you share any data that will make it feel real and understandable?
[How it happened] Describe your role in the initiative, focusing on some of the key aspects that show what skills you had to use to get the work done or some significant challenges you faced. Was there anything in particular worth mentioning? What were your main tasks?
[Results] Clearly articulate the outcome of the initiative with lessons learned. The results don’t have to be positive. Your HVA can be a failed project, but because it stretched your limits and it was a non-trivial project in the first place, you can still consider it HVA. What at the end happened? Was it successful, and if not, what did you learn?
[Why it is notable] – You need to connect your accomplishment to something important to others. If the positive effect is only on you, you are not getting the power of the HVA. Connecting your accomplishment to some benefit for others will give your work meaning and show that what you did was something others appreciated (either by emotional or monetary reward). How did others benefit? Why do you want others to know this about you? What benefits can this bring to your future work?
[Why is it important to me] – This is the part where you learn about yourself. Consider why exactly you picked this HVA. Why are you proud of it? Did you learn something? Which of your core values it satisfied? Is this the type of activities you would like to do more of? Or was the lesson learned that even though it was an excellent opportunity to learn, you discovered that this is not your cup of tea?
When compiling a list of your HVAs, think about any activities, projects, or even smaller tasks you have done over your life that you are particularly proud of. Once you have the list, you dig into the “why” details. Why was it a notable accomplishment for you, and why should others see it as highly valuable?
As you go through your life, you will collect more and more of these accomplishments. Since we are all changing during our lives, these accomplishments, things you are proud of, will evolve. It is a good practice to regularly stop and think about what you have recently achieved that you can add to your list. It helps you adjust your course and keep doing the things that have meaning for you and helps you appreciate what you achieved and feel good about yourself. This constant reminder that your life has meaning will fuel your continuous growth and happiness.
When you look at the set of these highly valued accomplishments, you start seeing who you are. They shape your identity. They make you proud. They give meaning to your life, and therefore you should do more of them. When you look closer, you will find some common aspects and patterns that will point to your core values. These aspects are obviously important to you. Do your best to find ways to get them into anything that you do.
Have you ever thought about what your highly valued accomplishments are? Do you know what is unique about you, what are your strengths and how can you use it to your advantage?
Photo: Gadini / Pixabay.com
This article is adapted from my book Quiet Success: The Introvert’s Guide To A Successful Career. If you enjoyed it, get a copy today!
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