So why doesn’t it work out that way? We see under-performing coworkers get ahead instead of us. We submit our best ideas and they don’t get implemented. We keep our noses to the grindstone but don’t get noticed.
A job is one thing. A career is something else: It’s bigger.
Careers are about progress, growth, and ever-expanding success. We build careers by moving from the bottom rungs to as high as we have the desire and courage to climb. We may each start on different rungs, but we’re all on the ladder.
Our success is a function of our skills and abilities, our personal/professional style, relationships, vitality, and ability to navigate the political waters. This means we need to be acutely aware of each factor, weighing them before acting.
The problem: Most of us don’t have full awareness or understanding of the implications and impacts of our next moves.
The solution: Support from a team of experienced people who want you to succeed.
Follow the winners
Professional athletes, actors, and musicians set career paths for themselves with clear measures of success—on-field performance stats, movie ticket or album sales. Every day they’re making business decisions, expanding relationships, and improving their performance so they can rise.
They’re just like us, only their platform is the public. Ours is our company and/or industry.
But they’re also different from most of us because they realize they can’t become successful by themselves. They need a support team to help them, people who care about them and whose advice they will listen to even if the message stings.
Individual sports like golf showcase what support teams mean to professional success. Take this year’s Masters Golf Tournament. Each golfer had a story about what it took to get there—a story of his support team, including several or all of the following:
- A caddy—who helped him navigate the course, validated club selection, and calmed his nerves
- A swing coach—who helped him improve his game, prepare for the tournament, and gave him pointers between rounds
- A sports psychologist—who helped him overcome self-doubt, stay in the moment, and manage his nerves
- A nutritionist—who helped him eat well to maintain energy, lose or maintain weight, and deal with health issues
- A strength coach—who helped him build the right muscle groups, stay flexible, and develop endurance
- A publicist and/or administrator—who helped him handle the press, the off-course appearances, and tour schedule
- Family and friends—who cheered for him, win or lose, and loved him in ways that kept him going
As standout athletes climb their ladders, their support teams get larger. That’s what it takes to win.
Who’s helping you?
We need people around us who know what our career goals are and the kind of success we want.
It’s not about who you can periodically call on for help. It’s about who’s consciously, continuously, and consistently committed to helping you. There’s a difference.
It starts with family, friends and even your boss and/or a mentor. Explain as clearly as you can what kind of help you want and need from them.
You may need an experienced career coach you can rely on, someone who has successfully mastered the kind of growth you’re after. This is someone who is objective about your strengths and weaknesses, your performance and drive, and able to help you overcome obstacles in ways that build you up.
Then you need to invest in yourself by expanding your knowledge and practicing.Yes, practicing! You need to use your skills in situations that test you.
Going it alone is not a winning career strategy. In fact it takes the joy out of the process. Helping hands turn our uncertain and arduous climb into an adventure where everyone shares in the outcome. Onward!
Photo from ▲Bonard▼via Flickr