How often have you applied for the promotion, only to see someone less experienced or less accomplished than you get the job? I know I have been there and I know that my actions at the time focused on complaining about the outcome, focusing on all the areas the other person is not the best person for the job and generally looking outside of me for somewhere to place my blame. And, I also know that those actions never helped me get the next opportunity, nor did they position me to take the lead on a key project or assignment. Once I started using the three steps I am sharing with you today, that is when I changed my career trajectory. Now, that does not mean that I got every promotion I wanted, or that I was always to one chosen to lead a big project, but it does mean that I took every opportunity I had to change how I saw myself, and therefore change how others saw me. And I put myself on a path to create the career I wanted, even when I was not sure what the next move was exactly.
So, let’s talk about three ways that you can best prepare yourself for the next career move, BEFORE you even know what that move is!
One - focus on you.
I know it sounds basic, and it is, but you have to know what you want, what your high-value areas are and how you can deliver results to the organization before you can sell others on it. If you don’t have confidence in your ability, or you question if someone else is a better fit or more qualified, doesn’t it stand to reason that others might do the same? Spend some time writing down your goals, what you do well, where you have opportunities to learn and grow and then start to find your themes. You do not have to be just like the last person to get promoted or to be selected to lead the new project, you have to be authentically you.
Two - create your unique value proposition and get comfortable sharing it.
Once you get clear on you, now it is time to build your unique value proposition, which is really a fancier way of saying your sales pitch. This is the way you tell your story and demonstrate your key contributions in a way that makes someone think ‘why isn’t she on my team already?’. This can feel uncomfortable for most people at first, because we are often taught to be humble and not brag about ourselves. But you know who is not focused on being humble and is totally bragging about themselves? The person who got the last promotion or big project or new assignment.
Three - be willing to fail, get up and then go again, and then hit repeat.
This one can often be the hardest for people to do - and, to be fair, high-performing professionals like you don’t like to fail, you almost feel an obligation to be successful and you are confident that one failure could cost you your whole career, right? NO. You are holding yourself to a standard that is not realistic, and honestly, not even true. People who are afraid to fail are ultimately afraid to try - think about that for a minute. When have you ever tried something ONE time and been completely successful at it? But, in our careers, we think one wrong decision, one bad hire or one failed project means we are not qualified or good enough or the right leader. We have to be willing to fail in order to succeed. There is no way around it, failure is the way to success and we have to start getting comfortable with that thought. No one is saying set up a tent in failure and park there - but you cannot get to your greatest success if you are not willing to risk failing first. And, as a leader, when you can share your stories of failure and how they landed you right where you are today, you are not just creating your own success, you are setting someone else on the path to greater success.
Once you really know who you are and what value you offer, you can put yourself out there, be willing to fail and learn so that you can find the exact success you are meant to have. And, I look forward to the day we can trade stories over a coffee or glass of wine about how using these three steps helped you transform the way you lead and achieve your goals!