This is an unwritten rule in US presidential elections and a line in a witty and fascinating book by Dan Pfeiffer ‘Yes we (still) can’
It has made me think. It has clear translations for our own professional lives, even if we don’t run for President. Do you?
The best state of professional freedom is the ‘less afraid of losing’ one.
Have the skills and competences that can attract others, sure. But for all the noise about how unrealistic this may be, as an aspiration, it does not get better than: be unique. Maybe its knowledge, maybe it’s presence, maybe distinct view of the world. Maybe ability to put together A and B.
But expertise is not enough. It needs ability to make sense and share the expertise. Any answer that requires just a Googling trip can’t seriously be qualified as unique expertise. Finding your own way to the library, digital or otherwise, is a skill, for sure. But try to sell yourself as unique Googler.
Expertise and some degrees of ‘uniqueness’ may come also with the ability to cut across different fields, or even angles within a field in itself. Bridges and brokerage are a good source of that ‘unique expertise’.
What about making sense? Literally, make sense of the information jungle. Being able to separate the noise and the signal.
Routine tasks may be taken over by artificial intelligent machines, we are told. Even ‘thinking tasks’. Professionals today need to think what is unique that makes them strong and ‘indispensable, with how many qualifications to that word.
I don’t have a good answer.
But I have a good question for professionals: what would make you ‘less afraid to lose’, using the metaphoric meaning of an election campaign. What would make you free?
The answer may be … complicated. But it’s a good question.