Field Notes: What do you hope to accomplish: here and beyond

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What do you hope to accomplish here and beyond? Right now, my here is “Degreed.”

When I was prompted with this question, it was a month after I joined Degreed. Founder, David Blake, led with his curiosity that day and asked us about our hopes and dreams. It’s the kind of question some of us dread (enter: Ron Swanson from Parks & Recreation). But oh boy do I ever love this kind of stuff. I have Leslie Knope levels of enthusiasm about it.

One of the reasons I embrace this question is because I ponder similar questions often. Such as: What are my core and peripheral gifts? Which ones are needed for whom and when? The answers to these questions are how I make sure that I’m aligned with my “Why.” The more I understand why I join, serve, labor, or otherwise share my gifts, the more I can bring my full self to whatever I do.

I framed my answer to David’s question with three goals:

1) what I hope to accomplish here (at Degreed),
2) what I hope to accomplish next,
3) what I hope to accomplish before death.

Responses are italicized below:

  1. Hope to accomplish here: Reframe learning for individuals and organizations.
  2. Hope to accomplish next: Untether and experience the world as a digital nomad. City hop and country hop while working remotely until marriage or health forces me to re-anchor.
  3. Hope to accomplish before death (key theme for eulogy):
    • Friend to the forgotten (someone who upheld dignity in the final stages of life for hospice patients).
    • Storyteller-in-residence for my daughter. (someone who coached more than dictated, who inspired more than proscribed. We read together a lot and share a love of stories. I want her to remember me as a guide and not a warden).
    • Hacker of expertise (Real estate broker. Architect. Doctor. And whatever else I reach for next. I want to demystify the cult of hidden titles and inspire others to be boldly curious).
    • Creator of beautiful experiences(Delightful architecture. Global Excursions, Walking Classrooms).
    • A fulfilled Legacy (someone that brings pride to my tribe, here in the states and in my father’s country of Eritrea).

My core gift is to be a herald. Some characterize their gifts by identifying it as a spirit animal, MBTI type, mythical assignment, or divine purpose. After exploring the many paths to self-discovery and being described as a foxy ENTP that might be a “3rd-grade teacher with a secret life,” I simplified mine to herald. I’ll explain.

Goal #1 (Hope to accomplish here) Explained: Each day, I serve to reframe learning for individuals and organizations by heralding the promise of this brave new world of learner-led experiences. I have many assignments in my current role, but I thrive most in those face-to-face or virtual modalities where I can show and share the path. It flows naturally and I could do it for hours on end with unwavering delight. My core gift provides the fuel to perform not from a place of obligation, but from a place of joy.

Goal #2 (Hope to accomplish next) Explained: As much as I enjoy sharing my gifts through my work, I enjoy recharging and soaking up the beauty of the world. Before using the Degreed mobile app, I was missing some visibility into my own curiosities and personal growth. Meticulous as I am, I tried to close this gap by journaling my ideas and learning into a Google form that fed into a Gsheet, complete with quantitative and qualitative questions. The problem with that is…I would only use it once a month or so. Now, when I’m riding in a cab in NYC I can kill time by reading articles in my feed or capture the hours of learning spent listening to an audiobook while on a flight. And the app captures it all for me, making it easy to track and cultivate that habit of learning. Given my love of data, seeing what I’ve learned tracked in one place along with my trending topics and interests offers me exciting insights.

Goal #3 (Hope to accomplish before death) Explained: This is the long view. It answers the question “How do I hope to be remembered?” Without expanding on all the bullets, I’ll end with a story. I received a text a few weeks ago from the volunteer manager at an organization where I normally serve as a hospice patient care volunteer. She needed help with an event. I checked my calendar and responded with “Yes.” I arrived at my post at 7:55am on a Saturday and was charged with directing cars at the lower level of the parking deck until 9:15am. She mentioned that she was disappointed because the other volunteer was a no-show. I was instructed to guide arriving guests to park and go to the lobby where they will wait to be escorted to the rooftop restaurant venue. Not only was I unbothered the other volunteer was a no-show, I was excited. Why? I would have the privilege of being the first person they encountered–to wield the power to set the tone for the guest experience.

What the volunteer manager did not know was that I had been hired to greet visitors and deliver presentations at the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, VMworld in Barcelona, CES in Las Vegas, CES in Shanghai, Bett Show in London,  to name a few. I was about to show up in that parking deck in the most magical way for these people– for free and with a huge smile! What you learn from working with industry titans at events on that scale is that your message is bigger than your talking points. My mission was not to give the arriving guests a list of instructions on how to get to the lobby. My mission was to surround them with warmth and confirm that “Hear Ye, Hear Ye: We’ve been waiting for you! Welcome!”

Most of the guests who arrived were kinda sorta sure they were in the right parking deck. Each time they tentatively drove in and rolled down the window, I knew why they were there. No one else was hosting an early morning event. But I still let the experience unfold for each person by asking “Hi there, are you here for Missing our Mothers?” Each time, they would answer “Yes.” And each time I would start their journey with “You’re in the right place! And we’re so glad you’re here!” Each time they would smile. Then I would tell them next steps.

That wasn’t on my list of talking points. That was the core gift of knowing the difference between reciting instructions and heralding good news. Each of those women were at this event to celebrate the memory of their mother– mothers they do not have when others are with their mommies on Mother’s Day. No matter whether the volunteer post was to be an emcee (that job was taken by a famous journalist) or to play a medley on a violin or to park a car, every moment of the guest experience at that event was meaningful. We all made sure of it. What an honor it was for me to be their first smile.

Truth be told, 9:15am came all too quickly. Most unexpectedly, when I finished my shift I enjoyed a front-row seat at a reserved table to enjoy the program. All because I said “Yes” and I showed up. That other volunteer really missed out– maybe she thought it was just about parking cars.

So I leave you with this question: What are your core and peripheral gifts?

Consider how you practice using them and what you hope to accomplish with them wherever you are. Continue to build your collection of learning and tag them with skills to look for patterns. And remember that the more you understand about your gifts, the more you can unlock experiences that help you bring a fullness, a purpose, and an enthusiasm to all that you do!

Written by Tess Tesfamichael