When I worked in executive search, I remember seeing a trainer who said something simple and true — The person who gets ahead isn’t always the smartest or work the hardest, although, goodness knows, those a great qualities to have. The person who gets ahead is the one who remains alert to opportunities. Sometimes they are internal to your organization. Most of the time, they are external.
This is a true and accurate observation of getting ahead. For most people, they have to change jobs to move up. But what about if you like your current job and firm and get ahead? What can you do then?
There are no guarantees to anything professionally. However, there are things that you can do that will help you and give you more of a chance than not.
1. Initially, stay in your lane. This one is easy. You were hired to do something in particular that your firm and manager thought was important. DO YOUR JOB! This is a classic statement that Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots demands of his players. You have something to do on every play. Do your job.
2. Put in a World-Class Effort. Ann Miura-Ko Has been called the most powerful woman investor by Forbes magazine. She has a sensational track record of investing success. When she was growing up, her father would always ask her, no matter what she was doing, “Is that a world-class effort,” even if she was just making a copy at the principal’s office in school. “ Make sure you do a world-class job,” “. Even when she was five years old he would say to her, “Is that the best a five-year-old could do?” Think of doing each task world-class, Instead of good enough. It makes a difference.
3. Show up. Andy Warhol was thought to have said, “80% of life is showing up.” What he said was, “80% of success is showing up.” New Yorkers may know the sales pitch about buying lottery tickets, “You have to be in it to win it.” You have to be present to have a chance to be noticed to win.
4. It isn’t just what you know it’s who knows you or who knows about you. How do you want to be known within your organization? You can do good enough work that brands he was being average or world-class work that everyone notices and admires. Good enough isn’t good enough as far as your career is concerned. Also, it’s important to be known outside of your organization. Develop a reputation/brand for yourself that is known within your firm and outside of it. Write for LinkedIn. Become a guest on podcasts or someone’s YouTube channel. Attend conferences ( at your employer’s expense preferably). Become a speaker. Become known as an SME that others rely upon and trust. I can’t stress this enough. Your reputation needs to precede you because of everything you’ve done.
Nothing is guaranteed in life but these steps will help you stand out from all the average people who do things “good enough,” instead of “world-class.” It isn’t enough to be good at what you do. You have to be good at what you do and have people know that about you. After all, we were all raised with the question, “if a tree falls in the woods and there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?”
If you do a great job and no one knows about it, will someone else claim credit for? Will opportunities land in your lap or will you have to chase them? Experience tells us the answers to these questions. Be different. Be great.
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1900 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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