We may live in the keyboard era, but the lead-tipped, wooden pencil has long been a staple of American life. It’s convenient, cheap and easily acquired. The earliest versions, however, had a serious shortcoming; they didn’t account for human shortcomings. That’s why the pencil became dramatically more useful in 1858, when a middle-aged stationer by the name of Hymen Lipman added a rubber eraser to the other end.
Thanks to Lipman, we humans were able to work in a much wider range of circumstances and situations. Not only could we use the pencil to do our regular job, but we could expand our efforts to additional tasks without having to worry about doing them correctly on the first try. The handy eraser enabled us to execute a do-over whenever and wherever it was needed.
And, since this was America, it wasn’t long before an entrepreneur – one Joseph Reckendorfer – saw the potential of this innocuous, little product and bought the patent from Lipman for $100,000 – a sum equal to about $2 million today. Since this was America, however, lawyers also got involved and in 1875, the Supreme Court ruled that the patent was invalid. The eraser-aided lead pencil didn’t count as a true invention, and by the early Twentieth Century, it was a commonplace fixture in the workplace.
What does that have to do with Career Activism? You need to model yourself after the lead-tipped, eraser-equipped wooden pencil. You must acquire ancillary capabilities that will extend the range of circumstances and situations in which you can contribute on-the-job.
To put it another way, being extremely good in your career field – whether it’s sales, marketing, finance, IT, human resources, communications or anything else – is no longer enough to ensure your career security. If you want to be always employed and always by an employer of your choice, you have to have additional competencies – an eraser – which make you more flexible, more adaptable, and ultimately more useful to your employers.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. To learn more about this key attribute of Career Activism, click here to see The Career Fitness Workbook.