Which one are you?
We like to think that the past is what adds up to our current value to our employer or our team: education, experience, skills learned, accomplishments, road traveled, etc. All resumes say the same thing: “Of course I can be an asset to your organization. Look what I have done in the past.”
Value, however, is decided in the present.
- The value of your house isn’t what you paid for it in the past, but what you can sell it for today.
- The value of your stock option isn’t its price when issued, but the price you could sell it for today.
- The value of your education or experience is a function of whether they remain applicable to the world as it exists today.
In fact, value isn’t just about the present, but about measuring the utility of something in the present. $10,000 in the bank is only worth $1000 when you can actually withdraw $10,000 and put it to use today. Go ask someone in Athens how valuable $10,000 is in the bank when you can only get access to it at the rate of $66/day.
So, when it comes to being an asset or a liability to your company, your organization, your team … the real question is this: which one are you today? The answer to this question can change in an instant. One moment, you’re an elite Navy SEAL with nearly 20 years of the world’s toughest training and experience under your belt and armed with the most sophisticated equipment ever provided to a warrior in history. The next moment, your leg has been shattered by a bullet, and you are now nothing more than an immobile, screaming liability to your team and the mission. (If you’ve never heard of Jimmy Hatch, take an hour and listen to him tell his own story in his own words.)
The lack of bullets notwithstanding, your life and your work face the same questions. Do you have the necessary skills and attitudes to be a valuable asset today? Are you NOW a liability because you have been wounded by getting overlooked for an opportunity, having an idea rejected, or having a failure criticised in the open for all to see? Have you turned those wounds into assets by leveraging the learning you took from them, or are you still focusing on your disappointment, refraining from taking risks, or activating defense mechanisms instead of accepting and learning from criticism? Have your past accomplishments and record turned you from a well-equipped asset into a liability of dead-weight stagnation who sees no need to change, grow, learn, or improve?
It’s hard, but being accountable to your team, your organization, and yourself, requires brutal honesty in accounting.