Give yourself a chance

May 8th, 2011 | By | Category: abundance, career choice, focus, opportunity, strategy, tactics

Over the years I have researched and tried several models and success formulas. Some were very simple and involved little more than doing a good job and waiting to be noticed. (That never worked for me) Then there are the very complex models that are a compilation of traits of those who have achieved success. In all the models there seems to be a few constants.

Define your goals and a measure of when you achieve them.
This is important, and may be a moving target. For example when I first started working for the federal government the top of the career ladder was GS-15. I immediately set my goal to reach the GS-15 level as soon as possible. In the middle of my career the career ladder was changed, and four Senior Executive Service (SES) grades where added on top of the GS scale. I achieved the GS-15 level, but did not make it into the SES series.

Develop a strategy to achieve your goals.
The idea of working long hours and doing a good job is still one the most fundamental strategies for obtaining success. The following story illustrates the gamesmanship of putting in long hours. I was on the elevator with two Departments Heads. One turned to the other and said I was here till 9:00 PM last night meeting with the Chairman. Without batting an eye, the second responded, yes, I know I he called me in after you left. Then there was the Chairman’s assistant who was answering e-mails at 2 in the morning. IT found she had someone change her computer clock, and was actually responding during normal office hours. So it may not be long hours and hard work, but the appearance of long hours and hard work. Although hard work is part of almost every success strategy, working smart and seizing opportunities are key to climbing the success ladder.

Be Patient
Some people zoom to the top of corporate ladder. When I observed this phenomenon it seem almost magical to me. There were those who did not seem as qualified zooming past me. No matter how hard I worked I could not catch up. It seemed they were running on a smooth track, and I was running in quicksand. The more effort I expended the more I sunk. I became good friends with a senior engineer who had crippling polo as a teenager. For the longest time when I complained at my lack of progress he would just shrug his shoulders. Then one day he said, you know those people who zoom by you have people in high places pulling them along. He gave me a few examples, and he was right. The quickest way and sometimes the only way to move ahead is through who you know and who is willing to help you. His advice was to be patient, and not try to force the issue, when all I was doing was spinning my wheels getting stuck even worse by alienating those who could help me. He confided in me how he learned to patient when he got polo and spent endless hours laying a wake not able to roll over or adjust his position without help. No matter what he wanted he had to wait for someone else to help him. This is true in the workplace. Not matter how hard you work, you have to wait for someone else to promote you.

Seize Opportunities
Often we get tunnel vision and fail to recognize opportunities that are coming to us because of our hard work and strategies. When we narrow our scope to a few, or single option, to achieve success we are diminishing our ability to achieve our long-range goals. Although there is a lot of gamesmanship in the office most offers of promotion or increased responsibility are genuine. In hind site, I passed up more potential promotions while wasting time trying to get a specific job. In most organizations all roads lead to Rome. In other words being a supervisor in one area prepares you equally to become a manager in another. There are some dead ends and things are constantly changing, but on whole if you are selected for a promotion or increased responsibility it is a stepping-stone to the next level. The federal agency where I worked has several bureaus that deal with different telecommunication services. Over the 30 years I watched as each took its turn as being the premiere place to be for promotions and recognition. The cycle was driven by the market place. When over the air broadcast (TV and FM radio) was thriving, the bureau that administers radio and TV licenses was king. It then shifted to cellular telephone, then to the Internet, then Public Safety and Homeland Security, etc. In almost all organizations you can predict the next shift in status by watching consumer and market trends. In a word follow the money. There are different opinions of job-hopping, but in most instances if management doesn’t want you to move you won’t.

Allowing Things to Happen at Their Own Pace.
I always seem to be in a hurry for things to happen, especially promotions and pay increases. Some may look at it as ambition to get a head, while others looks at it as being overly aggressive. In the end, some who did little more than their assigned tasks and kept a low profile ended up getting promoted quicker than some of the more assertive and aggressive types. In fact, often the more ambitious go getters were used to do the heavy lifting on new projects, while the promotions were given to those who moved in once the project was established. More than once I was selected to start a new branch or launch a new project only to have the rewards go to someone else. In many cases it was a change of administration, or someone who had more political support. In any case, I stand by advice to take opportunities when they arise. Once you say no, you are labeled as non-team player that can follow you for years. In most cases, it seems like there is almost a rhythm to a person’s career. This does not mean that you should just sit and wait, but sometimes by being overly aggressive we derail ourselves. The next time frustration sets in stop and take a deep breath and reassess the situations. Many times there are forces at work that you don’t know about. Give it a chance to play out; there is little you can do about it anyway.

Enjoy what you have.
It seems like we are always chasing rainbows. It is always something that is just out of our reach that will make us happy. Although there is nothing wrong with wanting to move forward, we seldom take the time to enjoy what we have already achieved. This does not mean to be self-satisfied, but we should reward and compliment ourselves on things we have accomplished.

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