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Target Fixation: Part Two

Last week, I wrote about an idea that a friend shared with me called target fixation.

I mentioned that I fell in love with it because of how broadly applicable I think it is.

This week, I'd like to explore one of those applications.

We love giving labels to things.

Let's zoom in on a particular kind of label: The job title.

Coordinator, Specialist, Manager, Director, Senior something, Lead of something, Head of something, Vice President, Chief something.

These are all examples I've seen in my world.

Your world might have some other variants.

Why is a job title an example target fixation?

Simply put, I think we focus on it too much.

We bump into it too often, and we fail to see that there's a human being behind it.

Fixating on a title can cause us to do very strange things.

Slightly outraged outer voice: How could they not know that, they're the [Insert job title]?!

Inner voice: Looks like we're all here, I'll just wait for [Insert person with the most senior job title in the meeting] to speak first.

Slightly intimidated inner voice: Woah, I have a meeting with the [Insert job title]. There'll actually be a bunch of [collective job titles] there.

Slightly outraged inner voice or maybe outer voice: How did that person become the [Insert job title]? I have way more [insert qualifications or experience] than they do!

Most of these examples are about someone else's job title.

There are plenty of examples that involve our own job title too.

I'll share a favourite example.

Inner imposter voice: They're all looking at me for the answer because I'm the [insert job title], but I have no idea what I'm doing.

A job title might be an obstacle in your way.

If you're able to acknowledge it and look past it, you should be able to find your way back to the human being behind it.

dark green background with a silhouette of a person on it in white outline

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