I remember a time at the beginning of my engineering career when it became painfully clear that I needed to learn how to write in an efficient and logical way. (I had mistakenly thought that writing wasn’t going to be that important in engineering. Ha!) I had written a report about phytoremediation (using plants to remove hazardous chemicals from the environment) and provided it to my supervisor. A couple weeks later I went to read the report and realized two sections had been completely rewritten. Right, wrong, or ridiculous, I remember thinking, “Oh my God. What I wrote was terrible and [my supervisor] rewrote it. If I keep this up I’m going to get fired.” It was time to learn what good writing was, and I wanted to do it because I wanted to be good at my job.
That realization was a transformational moment for me. I had to reorient my thinking to acknowledge that regardless of whether I liked writing, it was going to be a key part of my job. So I went on a knowledge quest to teach myself to write clearly. I read technical writing that I thought was good and identified how they explained problems and solutions. It took a couple months before I started seeing bigger results, and after a few years I was happy with my writing because non-engineers understood it. Twenty years later, I am still working on communication (verbal, written, and non-verbal) because I want to continue to develop this important skill.
We all have moments of deep realization throughout our careers. How we react to these moments shows what we’re made of and what we care about.
Questions to ponder:
● What skill(s) do I continue to develop? Why?
● How have I turned a weakness into a strength?
Stay curious friends!