Are You Ready?

Are you ready?You may be concerned about moving up the “corporate ladder.”  I often hear questions such as “How can I get a promotion?  Or get a raise?  Or get another job with more responsibility?”  My answer is a question in return – “Are you ready?”

Getting that promotion, or raise, or new job does not come from being sedentary and waiting out the incumbents or the competition.  We cannot expect “next” to be handed to us without effort on our part.  We must prepare so that when the opportunity arises, we are ready.

To “get ready”, consider these three quick tips – timeless and relevant (regardless of current position or status).

Know yourself and know your direction.  Before you can begin to think/work/succeed outside of yourself, you must be very clear about what is inside yourself.  A true picture of you will start you on a path of discovery for your strengths, passions, and areas of developmental need.  Who are you?  What is your purpose?  What are your values?  In which direction do you wish to go?  What do you need to do to you to get there?

Self-awareness is the key to making your mark or arriving at your destination.  As written in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland,

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.

“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

We will all eventually end up “somewhere”.  Is that “somewhere” where you really want to be?  I don’t believe it is necessary to have every step of your path mapped out in Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates, but you at least need to know where the journey potentially ends – and then let your internal compass guide you.

I had the privilege of participating in the 2nd Annual International Leadership Blogathon sponsored by Todd Nielsen.  My posting, “Ready or Not…It’s Going to Happen”, received some great comments from many who struggle with the incorporation of formal (or even informal) succession planning in their organizations.  One commenter, Greg Towsley, suggested that career planning is not necessarily accomplished by one-year goals or even five-year goals.  In his comment, Greg spoke of a former leader who prompted his team members to think of their future path by answering the question, “What is my job title on the day I retire?”  The process for determining an answer and the answer itself are directly tied to “know yourself and know your direction”.

Be aware.  Opportunities will present themselves, and serendipity will play a part in the route you take.  But you will only realize it is serendipitous when you have a destination in mind.

Find a mentor a coach, or both.  The African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” may also be applied to adults.  It takes a village to prepare you for “next”.  Your progression is not a solo act, but instead a product of your hard work plus the counsel of colleagues.  My suggestion to you – take advantage of this community.

Find someone you trust, admire, or someone who has the skills/job/position that you want to have.  Ask this person to mentor you – to guide you, to be your mirror, to open doors that would normally remain closed to you.  He/she will make you work.  But know that mentor/protégé relationships are special.  The ultimate indicator of success is when you can pick up the phone 10 years from now and continue the conversation.

We often hear of the value of a coach in relation to corrective developmental needs.  But you might want to rethink that – and start thinking “preventive” coaching.  Coaches question and prompt you, the coachee, to come up with your own “aha moments”.  A coach’s strength is in the dispassionate interrogatories.  You’ll often hear questions similar to “Why do you think that is?” or “What is the impact of (action or behavior)?”  A coach, armed with a battery of quality assessments, helps you identify those strengths or needs that will work to your benefit in the future.

Both mentor and coach are invaluable relationships in your move to “next.”  You would be wise to take advantage and learn from these counselors who are dedicated to your success.

Get comfortable with feedback.  Seek it – listen to it – adapt your behavior because of it.  Become a (good and bad) “feedback junkie”.

You receive feedback daily – from your team members, from your bosses, from your experiences.  It can come to you in words or through actions (or the lack thereof).  What is happening around you?  What is that telling you?

Some are quick to discount the comments from others – attributing the feedback to jealousy or ignorance.  However, a daily ritual reviewing “what went well” and “what didn’t” will contribute to your improvement and your reach for “next.”  The person that is truly ready is the one who listens and adjusts and then listens and adjusts again.

Michael Gelb, author of How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, says it best:

“Champions know that success is inevitable; that there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. They know that the best way to forecast the future is to create it.”

Whether you are a college student entering the workforce or a manager wishing to move up the organizational ladder, follow these three simple tips to move toward “next” – whatever that may be.



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