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I see more and more people suffering from S.K.I.T. Syndrome. People who act like the Smartest Kid In Town on a particular issue and can’t wait to show someone else how wrong they are.

Where does this get them?

Would you believe, I got my first job NOT because I was the S.K.I.T., but because I was a sapling. Are you familiar with expression “being green?” Saplings are young, more importantly they are flexible and trainable. Think of the bonsai tree, which is trained and shaped so its branches grow in a desired way.

When I was nearing graduation with my Master’s degree in early 2002, I decided to get a jump on my classmates, and start job hunting early. I applied for a job at an area hospice, and was granted an interview.

I was interviewed by the hospice director, Nancy, and a seasoned social worker, named David, who would become my first professional mentor. I sat as I was asked many questions about how I would support various patients in a variety of situations that I, frankly, had no experience with.

I gave my best answers to some of them and to others, all I could say was that I simply didn’t know.

I ended the interview by saying, “I realize how green I am with all of this, but I am really eager to learn everything you have to teach me, so that I can provide the best care possible for your patients.”

They thanked me and I walked out feeling like I’d wasted their time.

I continued my job hunt until two weeks later when I received a call from Nancy offering me the job. I was flabbergasted and enthusiastically accepted.

During my first few weeks on the job, David took me under his wing. One day, I asked him why they decided to hire me. What he said is a lesson I’ve always kept with me.

He said, “I can’t tell you how many people we’ve hired who come in here thinking they already know it all. They’re difficult to talk to and difficult to work with. You came in here wanting to learn, and that’s what we need.  That’s why we hired you.”

Sure, it’s important to be confident and competent, to have a basic skill set. I was about to earn my Master’s degree, after all. But underneath the confidence, I remembered to remain a student; to realize that no matter where I found myself, I was always in the presence of others who had something to teach me.

I led with that, and it turned out to be the most endearing thing about me.  It had nothing to do with my resume.

Thanks for being you.


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