The Ugly Duckling Goes to Work

The Ugly Duckling Goes to Work

Wisdom for the Workplace from the Classic Tales of Hans Christian Andersen – By Mette Norgaard
The Ugly Duckling Goes to Work probes H. C. Andersen’s sharp and witty stories for lessons that will inspire you to bring more meaning, more energy, and more joy to your work — to create a meaningful work life.

* The Emperor’s New Clothes: This prickly story pokes fun at phoniness and snobbery and shows how fear and ego can drive you to foolishness. You’ll learn to reclaim your own agenda by using two terrific fool-detectors: self-awareness and candid conversations.

Extract from Chapter 1:
We must look at whether we are in control of our own agenda. When we are anxious to fit in, we live our lives on other people’s agenda. This may have advantages in the short term but it is very risky in the long term. We give up our desires, adapt to their rules and adopt their scoreboard. Then later, if our jobs become downsized, outsourced or offshored, we feel betrayed. We can do better by reclaiming our own agenda, by choosing the work we feel passionate about, the work that we can do better than anyone else. As a result, instead of feeling entitled, we become responsible.
* The Ugly Duckling: This fierce tale of rejection, survival, longing, learning, and growing teaches you that success is not just having a great career, but finding out where you belong and becoming the person you were meant to be.
When we care deeply about something, we open ourselves to pain. Those who love language may be pained by cliches that others find clever. THose who care about fairness are hurt by injustices others barely notice. When we dare to engage wholeheartedly, there is no immunity.
* The Dung Beetle: The dung beetle, a self-absorbed and status-driven creature, provides a cautionary example of the need to get past illusions and face the reality of your strengths and weaknesses in order to succeed.
Spinning is a face of life, and from job interviews to annual reports we give our version of the truth. But the sequence is important : First face the facts, and then do the creative positioning. We need to accept that, as free agents, our only security comes from developing a strong professional identity, our unique brand.In his brand, Re-imagine! Tome Peters stresses 3 essentials for creating such a robust professional brand, mastery, networking and marketing.

Mastery is at the heart of our brand. We need to master something others value and will pay for. To do that, we constantly need to learn, to hone our craft and to keep building our professional portfolio.
Networking – Given the global economy, we even need international networks. The more others know who we are, and what we can do, the more options we have and the more resilient we may be.
Brands are all about stories, and as storyteller of our life we can create our own legend. But we do not become legendary by simply saying we are the greatest. We must become the greatest.
* The Nightingale: This charming story looks at a plain little bird that sings the most enchanting songs, drawing its strength from nature, meaning, and freedom — in sharp contrast to the gold, titles, and applause that motivate the emperor’s court. The tale teaches you to push beyond mere perfunctory performances and reach your full potential.

In his best seller Good to Great, Jim Collins shows that talent and passion are essential to outstanding workplace performance. They are necessary for anyone who wants to move from mediocrity to nightingale-level mastery. “What do I care about passionately enough that I will aim for greatness?” “What do I care about enough that I will have the drive and discipline to see it through?” These questions are a great place to start if you want to give more than a perfunctory performance and genuinely give of yourself.


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