7 Ways to Own Your Career Destiny
By Mike O'Brien | June 3, 2014
When I recently read the article “Make Your Team Feel Powerful” on Harvard Business Review, I had a strong reaction to it as a People executive who is committed to delivering employee empowerment. The sentiments felt very one sided, as if employees had to wait for their manager to empower them towards success — which while important is also a passive way to approach your future. It is my strongest belief that you have the power within yourself to achieve greatness.
Whether you realize it or not, every day you make choices that have a big impact on the course of your life. Regardless of the career circumstances in which you find yourself, that is choice by desire or choice by necessity, there are many actions you can take to empower yourself rather than wait for empowerment in the workplace (and beyond.)
1. Your power comes from owning your choices. Your job most likely requires you to work towards and meet a certain set of objectives, but don’t let that limit you. Find opportunities to try something new every single day.
2. Reflect on how much you’ve grown. Sometimes it may not feel like you’re growing as fast as you want in your current role, and then I encourage you to think back to the first day on your first job. Odds are, you’ve made tremendous strides since then. Make sure to appreciate and acknowledge that growth whenever you can.
3. Be honest with yourself when the times get tough. Own the emotions you feel about the work you are doing. It’s important to acknowledge the good and the bad — and there will be both, no matter where you work! Find ways to use that emotion to your betterment and expose what’s working or not working in your personal career development.
4. Constantly re-center. Keep reminding yourself why you chose your current organization or career path (even if it was choice of necessity). Take stock, again and again, of what you want out of your career.
5. Look around and seek out mentors. Whether at work, in circles of friends, family or loose connections on LinkedIn, take advantage of the smart people around you. Make the most of the knowledge, learning and teaching available to you right now — you’d be amazed at how willing people are to help others and share expertise if asked.
6. Ask yourself, how can this organization and this job advance my career? Figure out how what you’re doing today can build your skills and capabilities for tomorrow, and act on it. (I think it would be extremely rare to not find a single redeeming opportunity for growth, but if you can’t, refer to #4.)
7. Proactively take on cross-functional work. Sure, it may not be in your job description to take on more work, but by proactively taking on cross-functional projects you automatically expose yourself to individuals you might not have worked with otherwise. That means more connections, more knowledge and more opportunities to become visible to your organization in the best way.
Too often I meet people who are unhappy in their company, detached from their job, or dislike what they do. They feel powerless, defeated or disengaged. While it is easy to blame the manager, the team, the executives, the culture, the economy, or anything else that can be pointed to, I believe people should look inward to find their inspiration for growth: What do I enjoy doing? What is my dream job? What actions and decisions can I make to get myself there?
Get involved with your own career destiny. You are powerful. Make your own path; don’t let it make you.
Rebecca Price is the VP of People at Sailthru, responsible for all talent development and human resources functions globally. Prior to Sailthru, Price worked in talent management and human resources at Johnson & Johnson for nearly a decade and led key initiatives at The Advisory Board Company for 4 years.
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