from Brian Horn...Analogues and Role Models
...Last month I wrote about setting goals for 2018 and the role of accountability in accomplishing objectives during the year. I’m sure many of us are in the initial stages of planning goals or perhaps still analyzing the 2017 performance. I wanted to follow-up this month with some thoughts on how to improve technical, commercial, social and personal capabilities.
We are all familiar with the IQ (Intellectual Quotient) Test that evaluates our technical thinking and reasoning capabilities and usually experienced smart people always having a high IQ. For the most part, this is correct. There is also another measurement called EQ (Emotional Quotient) which is an evaluation of our abilities to engage with others and communicate ideas or emotions on an interpersonal level. I have also found individuals with high EQ are some of the most compelling and engaging people I have met. While they may not necessarily the smartest person in the room they have the ability to seamlessly weave a story together from a series of disparate ideas or observations. Their ability to communicate and connect with others in a conversation or presentation is always captivating.
Throughout my formal education at University, I learned from professors who taught the ‘best courses’ with expressions full of passion, intrigue, instruction and analogues. As I began my career in the E&P industry I had mentors that continued to promote conveying ideas using analogues as an effective way to communicate concepts. This can be a powerful method to illustrate ideas by drawing from known or calibrated observations and quantitative evaluations. However, in most instances, the analogy is just that and it is only a shadow or reflection of how actual observations may be similar to the analogue. When using analogues it’s important to understand the similarities and differences between what we believe to be true (our interpretation of correlation with the analogue) and what is actually true based on actual measurements or calibrated observations. Being able to evaluate the differences and understand why they exist is a critical piece of analysis. While many of the geologic observations can be self-similar and reflect different orders or frequencies of a common theme, we must guard against forcing an interpretation of our observations (round peg) into the model or analogue that suits our purpose (square hole).
Likewise, I believe seeking mentors or advisors for career advice or guidance can also be considered as ‘analogues’ in helping us succeed. I am a firm believer in having a small group of people to meet with on a fairly regular basis that are sounding boards or ‘professional analogues’ for my professional and personal development. Selecting individuals to support and give us honest and candid feedback as we progress toward our goals should be done seeking individuals with high IQ’s and also a high EQ. As geoscientists, we would not use a single analogue for a wide range of depositional environments and in seeking counsel we should also select a diverse range of advisors. It is important to seek out mentors throughout a career. It is not a “one and done” type of arrangement, rather it is a continuum of individuals who we seek out as we progress through different roles and encounter people we admire. We can use their careers or abilities as analogues for our careers and professional lives emulating the valuable traits we see in them.
Similar to using analogues in our technical evaluation of projects I also believe it is critical to continually review the people with whom we provide access to our career path conversations. Like analogues we use, some fit in most circumstances and other for just a few special circumstances. In choosing people as advisors it is important to critically evaluate our self-awareness about areas in our professional career that require guidance or training from a more experienced individual.
As I have progressed in my career I have found the most valuable mentors are people that seem to handle tense situations calmly. They have developed the ability to take a deep breath and wonder. The wonderful part is key because disagreements or conflict can create professional or personal roadblocks. These people are able to pause and change their perspective to wonder how the other person sees the discussion and wonder what the other person may feel or believe. Having observed people who are masterful in defusing tense discussions and direct a conversation in a more constructive direction has sparked my desire to be more like them.
As the activities of 2018 go to full swing and we travel the path laid in front of us let’s consider the personal analogues we want to use, how we will learn from the valuable characteristics they exhibit and drive us to carry on their spirit of learning and wisdom.