Survival Principle #9: Be ‘in Development’. (Don’t Be a ‘One-Trick Pony’.)

Posted on | June 13, 2009 | Comments Off on Survival Principle #9: Be ‘in Development’. (Don’t Be a ‘One-Trick Pony’.)

What makes you useful to the organization where you work? How long can you count on that being enough? Here’s the metaphor: If you were a pony that had an amazing trick that people were paying to see, how long do you think it would take for those same people to want to see you do another trick? The Show needs you to stay fresh.

Whatever you are really good at now may not be as important in the long run as you think. As my rock guitar-playing son, Jay, says, ‘Life is not about having a career anymore; it’s about having a series of gigs.’ Think of your job as your current gig. It may be a great gig. You may be doing your life work that makes your heart sing. (Survival Principles 3 & 4) But the way life seems to go these days, at some point that gig is almost certain to change. Dramatically. Then what will you do?

Your current job is just a position, a box on the org chart. Who you are as the person filling that box, determines how much that position contributes to the well-being of the enterprise. And, like it or not, THAT is the #1 criterion for how long you remain in that position: What value are you adding to the enterprise-now and in the immediate future?

The only response to this situation that makes sense to me is to ‘be in development’. My long-time personal coach, Jan Smith ( helped me see what that means, and a lot of these principles, if practiced, will put you on the path of personal development. In fact, I believe that is why we are here. I mean ‘here’. Alive and on the earth. I think we are here to discover who we are underneath all the roles we play, and to BE that, all out, constantly learning more and more about who we are and what we are capable of, so we can put our whole being in service to something larger than ourselves-for the rest of our lives.

That means you need to develop yourself, not just at the skill level, but also at the level of who you are as a person. A good coach (or boss) will find a new position for a great player. Become a great player who is learning and developing all the time, someone who is seeking out new assignments and learning experiences that help you grow. Get ‘in development’ as a human being, and stay there.

What could you do today to ensure you do not slide into being a ‘One-Trick Pony’?


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