Long, Long Time Ago…
Long, long time ago is a different galaxy far, far away, people advanced in their careers by keeping their heads down, working hard, not rocking the boat, and banking on the timeline and power of seniority. In this distant galaxy, whether blue collar or not, people didn’t have a choice nor did they dare to go against the grain of their company culture. Industry dictated choices and the limitations of access to knowledge and opportunities created unnecessary blindspots and obstacles.
A New Day
Fortunately, we live in a different world now (at least, I hope so). Many are waking up to the reality that things don’t necessarily have to work in the way that they’ve always known things to work. While the necessity of things like hard work and teamwork haven’t changed, the pathway to advancement surely has significantly evolved.
Don’t Settle. Create Your Advancement.
Let me say right off the bat that this has very little to do with demanding that you get paid more, have a more prominent title on the org chart, and/or how much vacation you deserve. In fact, it’s really not about these peripheral things. If you are still getting tripped up on these matters, you’re probably not thinking correctly about your career. These benefits are secondary. They are great by-products of your efforts but horrible goals unto themselves. What really matters is keeping your eyes on what ultimately will fulfill you in life and work.
Here are 3 practical tips for creating a pathway that both increases your personal satisfaction and benefits your company (yes, that entity that is paying for your time and building your career):
#1 Find Purpose
If you don’t have a sense of what would really fulfill your life and work, how do you expect your company to create satisfaction. You’re setting up your employer for failure. Find clarity around what your purpose is and communicate that with your supervisor. Speak up. Don’t blame your company for not reading your mind. Proactively find day-to-day opportunities within your work to integrate your sense of purpose and regularly celebrate when you make those connections with those around you. Don’t default to thinking that it’s not possible. You have to look.
#2 Create Business
This may sound like a no brainer, but it’s amazing how few take advantage of the opportunity to become more visible within a company by creating more business. Don’t get stuck in simply providing production value for your company. It’s very simple economics. Your company probably can’t pay you any more nor advance you through the ranks unless their business continues to grow. Why not take the extra step to add revenue value to your company? Leaders usually take note of those who can initiate growth or increase efficiency of work and costs.
#3 Innovate Your Craft
Our world has no patience for those who cease to innovate. Innovation is no longer a nice creative option. It’s essential to business. Your past success, whether from a year ago or a week ago, no longer guarantees your relevance in today’s market. We all have to innovate our craft. It’s ironic that in an era of unprecedented access to information that so many try to find safety in their knowledge from years ago or resort to limiting their learning to headlines or short articles. The truth of the matter is that if we want to be the best in the world at something, we’re going to need to work really hard to get to the top and stay on top. Consumption without innovation will derail creation.
Advancement is possible. We just have to take charge and proactively create our pathways to fulfillment and success.