I was reading an article in the Wall Street Journal about US Airways Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger today. You may recall he is the guy celebrated as a hero when he safely landed a plane in NYC’s Hudson River after having all of his engines fail.
Overall, the article is very inspiring and I enjoyed reading it. One thing that really struck me, however, was one of Sully’s quotes in the article:
"We need to try to do the right thing every time, to perform at our best," he says, "because we never know what moment in our lives we'll be judged on."
That is a very poignant comment, isn’t it? It was also very timely for me, as I’ve been thinking about similar things in my own life lately. You see, I’ve done a huge variety of things in my career but, as I change roles I sometimes find myself a bit “typecast” based on one person or another’s view of what they believe I’m best at based on their limited experience with me.
At a certain level, I’m flattered that they think I’m adding value in a particular area, but in other ways I feel short changed because my talents aren’t being fully utilized. My default behavior is sometimes to just “live with it” though I am making more of a conscious effort to do better “PR” so I don’t get minimized.
OK… enough whining - what are my takeaways from the thinking triggered by Sully’s quote?
- You can’t always pick what other people will value you for an remember you for, so try to do things you can be proud of whenever possible. That way, no matter what someone else picks to tag you with, it’ll probably be OK.
- Just because you feel like your “highest and greatest” moments aren’t being noticed, doesn’t mean you’re not adding value.
- It takes a lot of work to overcome typecasting, if you can at all. So ask yourself, “Is it worth it, or can I live with my typecasting?”
- You can honor the past, but you can’t live in it. If you don’t like the present, work on how you can change things in the future.
Of course, the other side of the coin bears thinking, too: Are there people I’m typecasting in the same way? How would I even recognize it if I were? Hmm…