“Cardboard” vs. “Sponge”

Which one are you – “cardboard” or “sponge”? I guess most of us are a bit of both. I personally hope I will be a “sponge” for most things in life. What am I talking about?

I am talking about our ability to learn new things as we get older in life. Take two people, let’s say they have very similar skills and experience, but

  • one is more of a “cardboard” – more focused on doing what she knows. She tries to make sure no one focuses on her limitations or think she doesn’t know something. She doesn’t like being outside her comfort zone.
  • one is more of a “sponge” – knows her strength and limitations and for things she is not good at, she tries every way to learn from others and improve. She is ok being outside her comfort zone as she realized its what’s necessary to advance

They may be equally successful now, but which one do you think will be more successful in 10 years? A rhetoric question, I guess. The second type of person can find a job sooner, can get promoted faster, and can recover from bumps in her career quicker. What do you think?

We have all heard of the saying “I am set in my ways.” Well, I say that’s a poor excuse. I hope I will continue to learn and grow until the day I die. All of us have the impulse to be a “cardboard” in certain things, because we are insecure or we are comfortable. I am no exception. I have the impulsse everyday as I am building my own business. I constantly try to apply my corporate experience to it because it’s what I know. Sometimes it’s helpful and sometime it’s very short sighted. I sometimes can be quick to defend my ground (e.g., my ego) when someone provides a new suggestion that I haven’t considered. Slowly though, I am catching myself when I am acting like a “cardboard” and coaching myself to be more of a “sponge”. I guess this post is as much a reminder for me as it is advice for others.

Bottom line: You don’t have to be genius or have all the skills today to succeed in your career. You just have to realize when you are being a “cardboard” and try to be a “sponge” instead. You will be amazed what you can achieve if you can put your ego aside.

Good luck out there! May we all keep learning and growing.

– Lei

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