I’ve had a few interesting conversations over the last couple of weeks that really illustrated the importance of the mindset we bring to work – and the mindset that successful people share.
“Can I help?“
The first was with a long-time acquaintance (I’ll call her Sandy), who has a mid-level project management position in a fast-growing company. She told me that her director had been asked to temporarily step in for a departing colleague until a replacement was found. Sandy recognized that the manager’s workload had now doubled, so went straight to her office and offered to help.
She was familiar with two projects that the manager had been personally heading up, and suggested that she could offset the manager’s workload by taking them over until things were sorted out. “Anything I can do to help – let me know,” Sandy had said.
Later in the day, I was having a conversation with her manager, who told me that Sandy was a ‘keeper,’ and destined for success. “I don’t know how I’d manage without her,” she said.
“Do I have to?”
A week later, I had a quite different conversation with one of our clients, who was telling me over lunch about an exciting new service they were preparing to launch. It was still in the early stages of development, so they hadn’t yet created a formal new division. Instead, they were spreading the workload around to a number of people from different departments until everything was ready to go.
My client was dismayed at the attitude he encountered. “I’m astonished.” he said to me. “All everyone seems to want to talk about is the ‘unfair’ burden of the added responsibility.”
“This is a big venture for our company, he continued, “Everyone knows that it will soon become a separate division – requiring over 50 people just in the first year. The opportunities for advancement are huge.”
He then told me that he had been keeping an eye open to see who stepped-up in the early stages – as he was on the lookout for a potential leadership group. “Someone with initiative will be the front-runners for a hefty promotion,” he said. “Not only will it represent a significant salary raise, but they’d also be setting themselves for an amazing future,” Sadly, though, no-one had risen to the occasion.
Opportunity is Everywhere
These aren’t unique stories, of course. But they were a great illustration of the opportunity that surrounds us – that’s there for the taking if we keep our eyes and minds open. It is everywhere. The trick is to look for it.
Too often I encounter people unhappy in their jobs, and complaining that they aren’t getting ahead. When overlooked for promotions, they blame office politics, favoritism – anything but themselves. My advice is: Don’t be that person. Don’t assume that you are entitled to advancement. Don’t wait for someone to hand you a promotion on a silver platter. Look for the opportunities, and then make the effort to seize them.
Here’s how to stand out
Want to stand out in your boss’s mind? Find ways to make hes or her life a little easier. Look for ways to innovate in your job, or create greater value. Be an amazing team player. Be that “go-to” colleague that everyone can depend on. Whatever you do, never underestimate how much control you have over your own future.