You know how some people at the gym do the exact same workout every day? Have you noticed that these people never seem to make any progress with their fitness level? That’s because they are using the same muscle groups in the same way and these muscles become accustomed to the workout and after a while, they are no longer challenged.
Well, the same goes for our brains. If we continue to do the same thing day after day without challenging our brain, we won’t learn anything new or expand our skill set. In short, we will not reach our full potential in our personal or professional lives. What a waste!
At first it may be painful and perhaps scary to try something new. We are so comfortable knowing our current limitations that the idea of pushing ourselves forward is daunting. But just like the fitness metaphor, the benefit of cross-training our brains to learn new skills can only help us in the long run.
I wrote last week about Susan Bulkeley Butler, first female partner at Accenture. She chose to cross train her brain every three years by forcing herself to change positions within the company to expand her skill set and build her resume. The result was that she reached her goal of becoming a partner in the firm.
In our current work environment, there may not be a clear path to the top, but one sure way to move your career forward is to challenge yourself and seek opportunities to increase your skills and knowledge base.
What have you done lately to expand your skill set or stretch your comfort zone?
It’s pretty common to hear people talk about climbing the corporate ladder when they are talking about career advancement. It implies that every step we take is one that will move us closer to the top; to the executive or senior management level. This ladder metaphor, however, is becoming increasingly obsolete.
In a Harvard Business Review post from February 15th, author Priscialla Claman states:
Career ladders died out during the late 1980s and early 1990s, when over 85% of Fortune 1000 American companies downsized their white-collar workforce.* Downsizing has only escalated from there, however in the 80s and 90s the lost jobs were not in manufacturing but white-collar jobs, including management jobs.
Claman reinforces the idea that the lack of a formal process toward promotion gives us the opportunity to have more control over our careers and think strategically about what our next step might be.
In their book, Through the Labyrinth, authors Alice Eagly and Linda Carli state,
Paths to the top exist, and some women find them. The successful routes can be difficult to discover, however, and therefore we label these circuitous paths a labyrinth.
I interviewed Susan Bulkeley Butler on my previous radio show, Head over Heels. Susan was the first female partner at Accenture. She told me that she knew early in her career that she wanted to be a partner in the firm, and every three years she would think strategically about what new skills she needed, where she would gain more visibility, and she would make a move to another position within the company. Sometimes these moves were lateral but always strategic with the end goal of partner in mind. Susan did reach her goal by building her social capital in the company and expanding her skill set beyond her comfort zone.
Often the next step for us is not up the ladder, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t reach the top by thinking strategically about our careers and managing our careers instead of our jobs. Look for opportunities to expand your skill set, build and leverage relationships inside and outside the company. Become politically savvy and understand the corporate power network, the decision makers and influencers. Work on improving your executive presence (communication skills and body language) so that you are visible as a competent and authentic leader.
Many doors are open to women who recognize the ladder is not the only way to advance their careers. Women who think strategically about their career path and learn how to navigate the labyrinth will be successful even though the corporate ladder is not readily available.
Are you being stingy?
…by not letting others know what you have to offer?
…by not speaking up and sharing your opinion or ideas?
Sometimes we are so focused on our “own stuff” and our fears or discomfort talking about ourselves that we forget that what we have to offer helps others. That’s right! Think about it. What you have to offer, whether it’s a product, a service, an innovative idea or new approach to a problem or simply your opinion, helps other people and improves their lives and/or careers in an important way.
Re-framing this as an offer to help is a terrific way for you to move beyond your fear and discomfort and focus on what the other person needs. It gets you beyond the “stinginess” factor.
How would your next job interview go if you used this mindset, understood what you had to offer and focused on how it could help the company?
How would your next networking event go if you used this mindset when meeting new people, finding out what they need and offering your assistance?
How would your next senior management or department meeting go if you used this mindset and offered your ideas and opinion?
For the next few weeks, I am offering you the opportunity to write and tell me specifically ONE way you help your company or clients (what value you offer), and I will feature your “commercial” in a new section of my blog/newsletter.
Please include your name, position, company (company website or personal website) and email so that other women can contact you.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
An amazing shift takes place when you connect with your unique value. It’s an incredible ah-ha moment!
When you truly understand your value, you present yourself with confidence; your body language changes; your communication changes; your relationships change and the way others perceive you changes dramatically.
For years, women have come to me for guidance on how to promote themselves. They struggle with feeling authentic and comfortable talking about their talent and accomplishments even though their resumes and experience tell a story of great success.
Why is this?
Because we struggle to fit in and be like everyone else in order to be liked. Now, as professionals, we are told that we need to differentiate ourselves and it doesn’t feel right. Somewhere along the line we get messages that we should be quiet about our talent. As a consequence, it becomes more difficult to make the connection back to what makes us truly unique.
We lose the vital connection with who we really are and our unique value proposition. We listen to everyone’s advice on who we should be, what we should do and how we should do it. This external focus distracts us from our own inner wisdom and our core essence.
What does it take to find ourselves again?
In her new book, Take the Lead, Betsy Myers says,
Leadership is a function first and foremost of self-knowledge and honest self-reflection.
How many of us take the time to figure this out?
How can we present ourselves to the world or promote ourselves authentically if we don’t do this self-reflection to find our unique value?
Understand that authentic comfortable self-promotion can’t be faked. It comes from a true understanding of who you are and what unique value you bring to the world.
Take the time to discover your value and this will be your foundation for career success and fulfillment.
I am offering you the opportunity to discover and connect with your unique value proposition so that you present yourself to your clients, your prospects, your colleagues, your friends with authenticity.
The GPS Your Career Group Coaching Program is a journey of self-discovery that will dramatically change your business and career by helping you to position yourself successfully.
This four week course starts February 15th, 8-9pm Eastern and includes four 60 minute coaching sessions, worksheets and stimulating exercises to help you do the deep dive and de-clutter to re-discover who you really are and what you have to offer your company or your clients.
No more struggles with self-promotion! No more struggles trying to get clients or be noticed at work!
The class is limited to 10 participants, so please register now.