Career lessons from the lives of King David and Prime Minister Joseph
At the time, the technology was very far behind what we now call hashtag#CurriculumVitae barely existed. As things progressed, resumes grew to the point of being considered sacred documents, meant only for those with the POWER to change your life. Today, people take great pride in waving their resumes in plain sight to the point where imaginary accomplishments are created and ordinary things stretched to make them look like accomplishments. In this article, I examine the career lessons in life of some prominent personalities hashtag#David hashtag#Joseph who didn’t have a “resume” but landed some of the most important jobs in the country and how they did it.
Auditioning for the job while it’s still to come.
In the Bible, David never claimed to be a king’s musician or a slayer of giants in the midst of war. He prepared for it (unconsciously) never knowing when the opportunity would arise or better yet by doing ordinary things with passion and commitment.
Joseph went from prison to Prime Minister simply by interpreting a dream because he had mastered the art of dreaming and interpreting dreams. He never hesitated to share his dreams with his family despite the envy and hatred it brought him from his family, eventually landing him in slavery and then in prison from where he would emerge as the country’s highest civil servant after the king.
Registration for the Tekedia Mini-MBA edition 9 (Sept. 12 – Dec. 3, 2022) has started. register here. The cost is N60,000 or $140 for the 12 week program.
What will make you stand out in your career is a mix of good skills and character. Skills alone won’t get you far, nor will character alone; even if a good character would get you noticed for all the right reasons.
David honed his skills by caring for the animals in all humility, without ever complaining. He never wondered why, as a younger boy, he was sent to tend the sheep when he had older brothers with more physical strength to probably stand up to the animals and withstand the stresses of the job. He did it with humility and built himself a magnificent CV for the future.
We all find ourselves in the position of David or Joseph from time to time in life… either in the family or as a junior colleague or new to the office. The attitude we adopt will determine how much we can learn and who/what will be said of us in our absence, in the meeting rooms where important decisions are made. Remember that most career decisions/consultations are rarely made with your knowledge.
While David tended the sheep, he learned to play the harp in his spare time in the fields, a skill that would later bring his name to the king. He also learned how to aim with precision when he needed to fend off wild animals attacking his herd with a slingshot…same skill that would allow him to take a slingshot with surgical precision in Goliath (this is Excellence : the quality of being exceedingly good beyond ordinary standards). Meet your challenges with excellence. (Excellence is not an act but a habit…habits are what we repeatedly do. So to achieve excellence, be repetitive in what you do. Acquire knowledge repeatedly, demonstrate humility, learn new ways of doing things, innovate…)
You might find yourself as a junior co-worker with very little to do (especially when senior co-workers aren’t collaborative and knowledgeable or reduce you to running errands for them)… use this time to learn more about the job, the organization, its history, its mission, its culture, its processes, its strategy, its position, its challenges, its competition, new skills to make you succeed or prepare you for the future. Develop skills relevant to the organization and your career vision.
Do it in all humility and before long you’ll be discussing strategy with doctors, bringing calm to council chambers (just as David played the harp to calm the king or chose to confront Goliath in ‘a military conclave), carry out key missions on which the survival of the company could depend (David vs Goliath). Learn in humility and move like a submarine on a deadly mission, surfacing when your mission is accomplished, when you’ve had to torpedo the efforts of a boss or uncooperative co-workers to starve you or keep you in the dark.
Your ability to perform with excellence coupled with exceptional character would get you discussed for all the right reasons in important places. Gone are the days when resumes were considered secret documents, meant only for potential employers. These days, you don’t even have to submit a resume to land some jobs. If a resume is a record of what you’ve done or accomplished over the years and how you did it, then except you did it all on another planet, people don’t need to look too far for your CV. It’s evident in the things they’ve seen you do or heard about you. People note what you do, how you do it. In fact, some people have records of your accomplishments that you can remember (remember the report given to the king about David or have you ever remembered certain things you do on a regular basis that seem to go unnoticed?
It can be as simple as your passion for what you do and you are surprised when your manager mentions “I like the way you always handle this, so I want to increase your responsibilities, enrich your work, promote you…and you are like wow.. but these are little things that i do from time to time without noticing the impact it creates the fact that you do them when no one would care, that you don’t have to do them , that you don’t get paid directly for it prepares you for greater things. Why? Because playing with excellence has become a habit and almost everything you do is beyond the ordinary standards for the ordinary man because you do it with excellence.
You don’t have to trample others to progress. David had several opportunities to kill Saul but did not take any because he had the big picture.
Altruism is ultimate. By selflessly sharing his dream interpretation skills, Joseph achieved a position where he would ultimately save Egypt and his family from certain death by starvation and starvation.