There is an urgency about moving on in your career; you’re not getting any younger and the competition isn’t getting any easier.
These 6 practical and proven ideas will help you either get going or will accelerate you on the current career path you’ve chosen.
1) Invisibly Begets Imperceptibility
Get noticed in the crowd of people all looking to advance themselves. You must be competent in your current role, of course, but if you are indistinguishable from your colleagues you have no way of being on a decision maker’s radar for job opportunities.
It’s funny that getting noticed is uncomfortable for many people; they don’t like drawing attention to themselves. It’s almost like we’ve been taught at an early age that it’s somehow “not right” to do things that make us stand out in our class — it makes us arrogant and narcissistic.
Well, you need to get over that if that’s how you feel. There’s no prize if you are a genius and no one knows it other than your mom.
Leaders who are the custodians of opportunity must have you in their line of sight as a high potential individual who can contribute a great deal to the organization and who should be given the chance to do so.
Develop a “be visible” plan that thoughtfully and respectfully unmasks YOU in front of the organization and presents your achievements in a simple and factual way.
Show your stuff in a way that is not merely an ego expression but rather a truthful narrative on what you do day in and day out to execute the strategy of the organization.
2) Value Is the End Game
Create value that people care about. The focus must be on the benefits you create for the organization (and for people) as opposed to delivering a project or beating an objective due date for example.
It’s admirable that you completed your project two weeks ahead of schedule but what’s more important are the benefits you delivered to customers or employees or shareholders earlier than expected.
Realize that the project or task you’ve been given is just the internal vehicle for adding value to “the outside”; keep your eyes on your contribution to the marketplace within which your organization operates.
By the way, if you are successful with this approach other organizations will notice, and who knows you may suddenly be presented with more options.
3) Differences Must Define You
Be the ONLY one that does what you do. If you’re not different than everyone else in some meaningful way — in a way that contributes to the goals and objectives of the organization — you will be viewed as nothing more than a common member of the herd and will have difficulty achieving a breakthrough in your career.
Sameness begets mediocrity; copying shows ZERO originality. You must find your own way to break the mold of commonness and it doesn’t have to be complicated:
- — Invent your own problem-solving method using crowdsourcing
- — Do MORE of what was asked
- — Go opposite to what the pundits preach
- — Used trusted external resources for added credibility
- — Launch additional projects from your original task
The important thing is to add your own twist to whatever you do; make being DiFFERENT part of your personal brand.
4) Doing it is 10 Times Better Than Talking About It
“A little less conversation, a little more action please.” — Elvis Presley
It’s not about intent; it’s about getting stuff done in the trenches where life is messy and people never behave the way you expect them to.
It’s easy to declare what you want to achieve and sell your idea on its theoretical merits (every idea is only a theoretical possibility until it achieves results).
But in the final analysis, unless the notion actually produces something it’s basically useless.
Getting it done relies largely on the right hemisphere of the brain where emotion, passion, tenacity, and perseverance live, not the left brain that houses logic and intelligence. Any implementation practitioner understands that if they are not prepared to get dirty in the trenches, their idea will be lost.
Expending emotional energy to overcome roadblocks and barriers is the key ingredient to seeing a good idea successfully implemented.
My rule of thumb is to spend 20% of your time on the idea — get it “just about right” — and 80% of your time on implementing it and tweaking it on the run based on what you learn as you implement it.
5) Find a “Done It” Mentor
Find a mentor that has done stuff. Most people look to the person who knows stuff as their source for career advice and guidance. After all, most “experts” have knowledge credentials posted after their names — doctorate, masters and bachelor degree designations for example — and therefore are an attractive target for young professionals looking for help.
In my experience, however, the people to look up to; those individuals who have proven they can deliver results, are the ones who should be listened to and followed.
I have NEVER seen one of these elite practitioners use a designation “deliverer” after their name, BUT THEY SHOULD. Because we need to draw attention to the fact that success comes from what you do, not what you know.
I know many smart people who have achieved less than their potential because they put all their trust in the way things SHOULD work — based on theory — as opposed to pouring their energy into finding a way to MAKE them work in the hard realities of people bias and internal politics.
My mentors always had the subliminal tag “master crafter in doing stuff” associated with their name.
6) Be Open to Anything
Do anything they ask and do it with eagerness and an open mind. I have seen many high potential people fall by the wayside because they were picky about what they did to the point they refused to take on certain projects because they felt they weren’t the right fit for their skills and competencies.
Their reasoning was that they didn’t want to set themselves up for failure by trying to achieve something they felt they were not qualified to do.
Unfortunately for them, their actions were perceived as an unwillingness to help the organization achieve its strategic goals; to take on the personal risk necessary to deliver even though they may not be perfectly qualified.
And they found themselves in the camp of individuals who were never again asked to lead projects of a strategic nature; their career stalled.
The point is, upwardly mobile people are expected to overreach every once in a while; go for something that is beyond their capability. They treat the opportunity as a source of learning and growth and are ok with the inherent personal risk involved.
My career strategy was to NEVER turn anything down, but rather to embrace any new project with open arms. I wanted to be that go-to person that could be relied on to successfully deliver in the face of great uncertainty.
I became known as the utility leader who could be pulled from any role I was in and be thrown into a temporary assignment to help solve a problem somewhere else in the organization. Being available to do whatever was required of me was a critical element of my brand; it paid off handsomely.
These 6 secrets won’t be found in any textbook but they are as effective as any scientific or human resource principle. They are all based on what actually worked for me in the real world.
Put down the textbook and translate these five actions into what they mean to you personally, and then get on with it.