Then there was the “aha moment,” a phrase meaning “a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension,” first known to be used in 1939 according to Merriam Webster, well before the Oprah Show.
Had any aha moments lately? The kinds that give you big clues about:
- how you’re doing at your job
- what next steps you should take
- what lies ahead for you
- who cares about your growth
If “no” is your answer, not to worry. Aha moments are neither plentiful or crystal clear.
Start with, “I wonder?”
You’re more likely to experience an aha moment when you ramp up your curiosity.
When your career starts out, everything’s a mystery. You wonder:
- Am I doing things right?
- Do my boss and coworkers like me?
- Is this job what I really wanted?
- Is this a good place to build a career?
A few timely aha moments would likely come in handy to influence your answers and build your self-confidence, optimism, motivation, and self-belief,
“I wonder” questions can be a gateway to “aha moments.”
Connect the dots.
Career aha moments can be enigmatic, easily missed or dismissed, until we stop and think. At least that’s how it was for me.
I came to a staff job at a Fortune 500 energy company after ten years teaching high school. With no business experience, it felt like a big adventure. I had zero career expectations, other than wanting to make a difference.
I started out in consumer education working with community educators to develop energy conservation curriculum materials. The company considered me their resident expert and gave me lots of freedom.
As a result, lots got done and that got noticed. However, I never directly connected my work with career advancement.
One day I was invited by the department manager to ride to a company event with him and his VP. I didn’t think much of it at the time, sat in the back seat, and was privy to their conversation. They were very open about lots of subjects that seemed,…well…executive.
On the way back, we stopped at the VP’s mother’s house. She was elderly and needed to have her storm windows lowered. She served us beverages and cookies. Then we headed home.
On the return drive, I had my “aha moment.”
“Really.” you ask? Yes, really.
Until that trip, I wondered why I, a former school teacher, was given so much freedom and access in my job. Now I knew.
The big reveal
They simply trusted me.
They trusted that I would:
- hold confidential their conversations
- conduct myself as a peer while respecting their positions
- support the direction of the business
- be open and honest, reliable and consistent in my work
But one aha does not a lasting realization make. That moment was only a beginning, a foundation. It revealed how important trust was in that organization.
So I started to watch for other signs of their trust in me and found them. Each renewed aha moment affirmed how trust, along with capability, can give your career a marathoner’s legs.
As I moved up, I came to see how trust drives results when:
- Employees trust their boss will be fair
- Coworkers trust their peers to be supportive
- Bosses trust their managers to set achievable goals
- Executives trust their teams to stand together
Trust comes from doing what you say you’re going to do and non-attribution, particularly not telling stories out of school.
When you can be trusted to hold confidences, perform ethically, and uphold the right values, you may discover more career aha moments than you can fathom and create some too.
Photo by DerrickT via Photoree