Working in a consultative capacity, there are two distinct and critical roles that must be played. The teacher, and the student. This can be somewhat paralleled with the concept of balancing yin and yang, the seemingly contradictory forces that are actually interdependent. How much time do you spend learning new concepts, and how much time do you spend internalizing and integrating them? It is difficult to be effective at one if you don’t spend enough time doing the other. It’s a virtuous circle of learning, testing and internalizing.
I believe a good consultant is marked by the ability to consistently bring leadership to the resolution of other people’s problems. The more complex the problems, the more you are worth per hour. If you solve $500/hour problems, someone will probably pay you to do that. If you solve $10/hour problems, your options are linked to that reality as well.
In my experience, the best and the brightest have balanced these two dimensions of their lives. They may or may not live on campus, but they are connected with thought leaders that introduce new ideas, concepts and insights. This breeds flexibility, and open-mindedness. They are never done.
I am inspired by my own mentor and his thirst for knowledge, even after a successful career of many decades at a CEO level. What it has taught me is that people don’t succeed by accident. They become habitually successful through the discipline of self-improvement.
And so I ask:
– Have we optimized our ratio of learning and executing?
– Are we being influenced by the right people, and to the right extent?