We all have those classes or experiences that leave a lasting impression on us. For me, that was Judo. I was 21 years old, 60 pounds overweight, and had never really done a sport before. But, I had always wanted to do martial arts, and I had a burning desire to finally get in shape, so I signed up for a class.
A colleague recently asked me, "How should I ensure that my work and my contributions get visibility within the company? What new skills do I need to move ahead?" Put another way, how can one stand out and advance his or her career in an increasingly competitive economy?
I sat in an internal project meeting, frustrated at the lack of progress on a significant company initiative. Across the table was our head of application engineering, explaining why the project was behind schedule. Sure, they had worked on it here and there, but there were missing deadlines and had no plan to get back on track.
"Can you at least give me a new date when it will be ready?" I asked. "Nope, sorry," he said. "We'll get to it when we can." Then he said something I'll never forget. "You see, it's not about actually completing things, it's about showing we're making progress." My jaw hit the floor. Really?
You're one of those people looking to get ahead. To make an increased impact. Otherwise, you wouldn't be here.
But if you're looking for tricks, hacks, and advice on HOW to get ahead, to cheat the system, to find the shortcut as your sole means of making an impact ... you'll be sorely disappointed.
To get ahead, it's not only what you DO but what you BELIEVE.
Context. This one thing makes all the difference between getting promoted and remaining stuck in your current role. Not hard work. Not sucking up. Not loyalty. Just context.
There's no mystery at the higher levels of most organizations, no secret club or handshake. The more senior a manager, the broader the sphere they're required to operate in and influence. It's really that simple. The hard part is that most people do the job they're in today with blinders on, never poking their head up to see what's around and next. Here's the harsh truth: you'll never get promoted by doing your current job well.
Kids can be very cruel. My overweight, shy, geeky 4th grade self didn't appreciate the clever wordplay of this nickname. Instead, it only forced me to retreat further into my inner world and comfort myself the only way I knew how: with food.
A quick note before we get started: this post does NOT address workplaces where there is overt racism, sexism, or any other kind of discrimination. If you're in that situation, run like hell as quick as you can find a new job. Life's too short and precious to put up with that.
Ever felt like your company doesn't listen to you? That your managers ignore your brilliant ideas? That your company would be so much better off if they'd just act on your recommendations? Here's the brutal truth. It's not them. It's you.