For most people, change is difficult and uncomfortable. Unfortunately, as human beings we are always changing. This presents an interesting paradox where humans resist change, while simultaneously redirecting everyday interactions to maintain some sense of normalcy. I have experienced this duality during my transition to graduate school. Moving from Buffalo, NY in 2010 to attend Ohio University, I was very reluctant to make new relationships or change my personality to fit my environment. Though I do not advocate changing one’s self to fit a particular group or genre, I have learned that adaptation can have positive outcomes. For example, if I had not learned to meet new friends, I would not enjoy the productive relationships of trust that I now have.
Friends help motivate us almost as much as the ever-changing environment. Without friendships, it would have been difficult for me to finish this graduate program. Further, without friendship I would not have been able to discuss ideas or refine my professional aspirations. Ultimately, these interactions have helped me discover my competitive advantage. That is to say, the things I am truly good at doing. In a presentation to the Ohio Student Education Policy Institute (OSEPI) on April, 23 2012, Ohio University Alumni and American political leader, Dr. David Wilhelm, discussed his thoughts on motivation and career success. To frame his conversation, Dr. Wilhelm offered three guiding principles:
1. Stay on Offense
As humans, we are ever changing. Therefore, we should be ever-striving to pursue new accomplishments. As an emerging professional, I have commitment myself to rising above the competition and showing potential employers the value I can bring to their organizations. Moreover, I continually position myself toward the future and reflect on the potential advantages of my unique skill set.
2. Drive your Competitive Advantage
What is it that sets you apart from the others? What makes you special? These questions define your competitive advantage. Personally, I am hard working, knowledgeable, adaptable, and well spoken. My competitive advantage demonstrates a willingness to “go the extra mile” and build productive relationships with clients. I have often said my greatest ability is my gift of conversation. Thus, I have decided to capitalize on my competitive advantage and enter the field of university fundraising.
3. Mitigate your Disadvantages
Though Dr. Wilhelm did not highlight this principle in great detail, he did suggest that one should mitigate disadvantages while driving a competitive advantage. This relates to staying on the offensive, as potential employees must prospect new situations and opportunities that may prove beneficial to the organization.
My father used to say, “You either make dust, or you eat dust.” This quotation has become my job search mantra and reflects the three principles offered by Dr. Wilhelm. Though it is difficult to find motivation during this time of great uncertainty, I am confidant that my friendships will encourage motivation and keep the sink clean of dirty dishes. Don’t forget, in college these two things hold seemingly equal
Andy: When will I be ok with the fact I’m not a super successful genius?
Ashley: Probably never, it’s not in you nature to be ok with being mediocre.
Andy: Darn. What am I then?
Ashley: I told you before, you’re crazy
Andy: Oh yeah. I forgot about that.