The context: an organization is considering hiring you, maybe as an employee, maybe as a consultant or freelancer, maybe just to collaborate.
The challenge: if you read my blog, you don’t just want a job where you punch a clock. You want to contribute meaningfully, meaning your vision extends beyond the immediate task they’re thinking about.
The conflict: if you don’t talk about your vision, you don’t know how well you fit at the organization. You don’t want to join based on a misunderstanding and then find you want to leave soon. But if you do share your vision, they might consider you overqualified, not focused enough for the job they want done, or a risk to conflict with existing plans and people.
The solution: I find the following words, suitably refined to the speaker and listener, do wonders.
When I start relationships at organizations, it tends to follow the same pattern. I start by meeting an existing need first. The organization is talking to me because they need something done, so I do that job well. In the process I come to understand the organization better, I meet people, and they meet me. If it makes sense then to expand from there, I do it based on those relationships.
Why it works: I find after saying that, that people open up and start telling me about other challenges. Instead of me bringing them up and them telling me I’m getting ahead of the situation, wondering if I can focus, I end up saying it to them.
For example, they’ll tell me about a bigger challenge than the task they want to hire me for, and I’ll tell them I need to meet people and understand the culture before I can speak knowledgeably about solving it, but if they like I could tell them about comparable challenges I’ve overcome before. The dynamic of my pacing them rather than them evaluating me works much better for me. It puts me more in a leading role.