Posted by Paladin on May 17, 2018
Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War has supplanted Jurassic World as the biggest summer movie of all time. For those unfamiliar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU for short), this movie is a culmination of eighteen previous films released over the past decade. This climactic tour de force pits “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” against Thanos, the monomaniacal “Mad Titan.” Thanos seeks to bring his own twisted version of “balance” to the cosmos by harnessing the cumulative power of six primeval MacGuffins, er, artifacts, called Infinity Stones. Each stone embodies a different element of existence: reality, space, time, power, mind and soul. They grant their possessor the ability to manipulate each stone’s respective facet of the universe. If you wield all the stones? You’re unstoppable. You needn’t be an intergalactic tyrant to appreciate the stones’ abilities. They even have positive lessons to teach job seekers.
The Reality Stone: Facing the Facts
If you’re a job seeker or employed and desirous of promotion, an honest self-assessment is a solid starting point. How does your brain work? What tasks does it perform best? Conversely, with what tasks does it struggle? What topics don’t hold your attention? Find trustworthy mentors and sources of constructive criticism who can provide you some perspective and objectivity. Our own subjectivity can cut both ways. We can often be either our own harshest critics or in denial of some personal weaknesses. Once we make a balanced audit of ourselves we can both leverage our strengths and work on improving our weaknesses. Work will always be work, but loving what you do and being good at it can make the tough days tolerable and the good days even better.
The Space Stone: Break Out of Your Comfort Zones
Many of us desire employment opportunities, raises and promotions but don’t want to take any risks. And this is perfectly understandable, but wanting to better our professional standing while staying put in our cozy comfort zones is next to impossible. Force yourself to branch out. Try learning a new skill. Volunteer for a special project at work. Always be ready to assume new and greater levels of responsibility. Don’t view these as risks but opportunities to grow as a professional and to prove your ability in full view of watchful managers always seeking fresh talent. Join an extracurricular organization (e.g. Toastmasters, Rotary Club, a local young professionals group), and take an active role if you’re able. As Tony Stark said in the first Iron Man, “Sometimes you gotta run before you can walk.”
The Time Stone: Use It Wisely
While Marvel movies make sizable fortunes at the box office, overall declining ticket sales have become a troubling trend in the film industry. However, it’s not that people have stopped enjoying entertainment. They’ve just shifted to home streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. So, while content creation has exploded, what movie studios have been reminded that no one is creating more hours in the day. Time is the one truly finite and nonrenewable resource.
Employers place a high priority on the ability of workers to prioritize their time. If you’re among a handful of comparable candidates who can all do the job well, who gets the job or promotion may come down to who can do the job fastest. The truism “time is money” has only become truer in a highly competitive, globalized economy.
How can you improve your efficiency and redeem your time? Listen to audiobooks and podcasts while doing chores or working out. Allot yourself an extra 15 minutes. Get to work 15 minutes early. This gives you time to get your coffee, greet your coworkers and get settled at your station so you can hit the ground running. Budget your time as carefully as you would your finances. Limit your time scrolling through social media feeds which can be a big time suck. Take time to brainstorm prior to starting a project to preemptively save time. If you use computer programs, learn your shortcuts.
The Power Stone: “With Great Power…”
We live in an individualist culture with an innate allergy to the imposition of arbitrary power from above. Closed, hierarchical structures in business have been giving way to flatter, more open and egalitarian organizational arrangements. Collaboration is favored over commands as a means of achieving organizational goals. Power has been diffused downward in organizations. However, as we know, “with great power, comes great responsibility”. Managers are seeking self-starters who can be trusted to make decisions and execute duties without having to be told precisely what to do or be directly supervised at all times. Be a good steward of job tasks delegated to you.
The Mind Stone: Destress So You Can Find Success
Mindfulness is the latest fad in business circles. Stripped of the buzzword-y baggage, mindfulness can mean just taking at least 10 minutes a day to disconnect from all the alerts, notifications, emails, tweets and tasks to meditate, relax, decompress and re-center yourself emotionally and mentally so you make decisions logically rather than emotively. Mindfulness fosters proactive rather than reactive thoughts, words and actions. Also, be a lifelong learner. Read widely and not just of professional journals, magazines and blogs (yes, even this one). Reading different books is like having a diverse and well-balanced diet for your brain. Use services like Lynda.com, Code Academy or Khan Academy to pick up a new skill, learn about a new field or brush up on existing skills. This will help make you more marketable as a candidate.
The Soul Stone: Not Worth Losing Even If It Means Gaining the Whole World
[Very indirect potential spoiler] Some would say Thanos’ pursuit of this stone in particular was the point of no return; the moment when he went from misguided crusader to malevolent monster. His single-minded ambition overcame any basic humanity. We can condemn his actions, but what moral shortcuts would we take or have we taken in pursuit of our own career goals? There are ways to aggressively sell yourself to employers without selling your very soul. However, if achieving such goals would cost us those things more precious than professional success and public recognition, such as our family, friends and ethical integrity, then we have not only failed as organizations and managers but as citizens and people.