One of the most important lessons (see: goals) in the architecture field is developing yourself as a valuable asset. My very first boss taught me a great lesson in how to excel in the architecture field, which was to try and think three steps ahead of him on what he might ask me to do. If you need to have everything explained, the job is ultimately done, and your job would simply be to execute. Not quite what it means to become an architect.

The goal is to make yourself into a person who can be plugged into a field of individuals and easily collaborate, multitask, and problem solve with a specific skill set to get a job done. Designing a building requires an unmeasurable amount of decision making. No one person, architect, builder, designer, etc. can really make them all. Nor should they. Not only does this require having skills to help advance a certain task, but to have cognizance that there are other players on the team, some of which can and will bring something you cannot offer.

The goal is to make sure you don’t become an employee who thinks your job is to simply show up and do what you are told. Not only does that create a boring job or career, but it creates a lack of enthusiasm, interest, and concern in a creative field that desperately requires those. You should also question a job that asks of you to simply show up and do what you are told, as it can pigeonhole you into a position that can stunt your career development, as well as accelerate feelings of apathy. Furthermore, if you are not helping, or being asked to help in the overall process, you start to become more and more irrelevant.

The goal should not be striving to become the next Wright (although that can be the mind-set), but rather honing in on and sharpening your skill set to become a more manageable employee, a more open minded boss, more transparent to a client, more knowledgeable on a construction site, and so on. Success isn’t measured in how many of your projects make it to Architectural Digest, or how huge a profit was made. It is measured in the quality of a building designed, combined with a satisfied client and how well the team worked together.

And finally, the goal should be to evolve into a type of person who doesn’t feel the need to tell a person everything. Egos should not be so large or fragile that you are unwilling to recognize that there are talented people out there with something to offer. Make it a point to try and listen to those people as much as possible. Steve Jobs famously said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do,” which I think resonates in a creative and technical field such as architecture. The goal is to become someone who can balance both.