“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“Kind” said the boy
Charlie Mackesy published those words in his 2019 book, The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse. An amazing read for children and adults, the book has spent over 100 weeks on The Sunday Times Bestsellers List top ten. The Sunday Times was first published in 1821, which makes it more impressive since his book was the longest Sunday Times Hardback Number One of all time.
After dropping out of college, not once but twice, Charlie started his career as a cartoonist before becoming a book illustrator. His award winning work as an author came at the young age of 58.
When we are taught to think about our careers and adult life as a kid, we focus on a technical job…astronaut, engineer, doctor, dare I say banker. But the Real Con is that we should probably focus more on the soft skills than the hard skills.
Real Estate and Construction are industries that have massive challenges, not only because we are trying to push the boundaries on what can be built, but also because many organizations have failed to develop the talent with the soft skills to match the hard challenges we all face.
Even if you are the best in your field, if no one can trust you or no one likes to talk with you, you and your team are going to run out of work. Imagine how much better the world would be if people focused on being kind…or helpful…or patient…or understanding.
Mackesy continues in his book:
“I wonder if there is a school of unlearning”
“Most of the old moles I know wish they had listened less to their fears and more to their dreams.”
Learning how to learn is a skill. Unlearning bad habits is also a skill. In his book The War of Art, Steven Pressfield talks about how a professional continues his journey throughout his or her life.
Like Mackesy, I can relate when Pressfield wrote:
“A professional reinvents himself.”
Life nowadays is too dynamic and changing too rapidly not to be willing to learn new skills. But I think the soft skills are underappreciated and underrated.
The architect who knows how to ask good questions and translate those answers into an incredible design.
The engineer who knows how to manage her time and the budgeted hours to deliver drawings before the deadline.
The contractor who knows how to stay organized and plan ahead to mitigate risk constructing the project with as few challenges as possible.
At the end of the day, it does not matter what your title is. No one cares about your profession. What matters most is how you conduct yourself.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
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