Episode 1: The #1 Key to Career Success
Everyone wants to achieve greater career success. What if we’ve been approaching it in the wrong way? Learn about what comes first and why.
- Learn the four key elements of professional and personal growth
- Learn the surprising truth about what builds trust and respect with others
Do you believe that the personal and professional aspects of your life are separate and distinct from each other? I had this belief for many years. I chose to focus my time and energy into improving my knowledge and technical skills. I thought that this was my ticket to career success. Even though my competency in performing my job was improving, I was failing in every other area. Specific problems that were sabotaging my success included the following:
- A lack of knowledge about my innate characteristics caused me to invest significant time doing work that wasn’t a match for me. I was frustrated because the job duties didn’t align with my core nature. My work quality and enjoyment were low, and my employers received poor performance from me.
- When other people gave me constructive criticism, I would defend my position, insisting that they were wrong. This harmed my ability to learn and improve. Constructive criticism is a crucial element for improvement. My defensiveness stifled my growth and discouraged others from making an effort to help me.
- My lack of self-awareness kept me stuck in destructive habits and my lack of awareness related to other people caused me to say and do things that alienated them. By living in unawareness and denial of ineffective patterns of thought and behavior, growth and development were not a viable option for me.
- I allowed my emotions to drive my behavior and often regretted the resulting consequences. When strong emotions intervened, they took control of my actions. I found that acting out of anger, pride, jealousy, and fear consistently led to poor results and stunted development.
The bottom line was that my career growth stalled, my level of stress and worry was high. My satisfaction and happiness were low. From these experiences, I learned a valuable lesson. The same lesson backed up by the experiences of other people and research. The most effective thing we can ever do for our career growth is to focus on our personal growth. Efforts that lead to personal growth enhance our capacity in every area of our life including the career area.
What do I mean by personal growth?
Here’s what I consider to be the four main areas of personal growth and why each is so important (feel free to add your own):
1. Identifying and developing innate talents to maximize productivity and effectiveness.
It’s common not to realize our true innate talents due to distorted messages we receive from ourselves and others and the lack of use of these talents (often we don’t know they exist). When our work aligns with our innate talents, we are set up to succeed. Also, it doesn’t make sense to “grind away” at work that provides limited enjoyment or satisfaction. It’s important to realize that our current age does not need to be a deterrent to shifting our careers. Many well-known successes occurred when people moved to new work in their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. The same principles apply to all of us!
2. Increasing awareness and acceptance of ourselves and others.
Everything starts with our self-awareness and acceptance. If we are highly critical and judgmental about ourselves, we will tend to remain unaware. This is because the human psychological system wants to protect us from the discomfort of self-criticism.
We cannot intentionally change something unless we’re aware of it. For example, if I have a habit of binge eating junk-food regularly, this is likely to continue as a problem until I become self-aware of what is causing me to do this. If I become aware that this habit is my distraction to stop feeling down temporarily, I can choose to consider options other than binge-eating.
3. The ability to manage our egos.
This means the ability to put desired outcomes ahead of emotional responses and impulses. Ego management also includes the ability to calm ourselves when negative emotions try to take us over.
This has been a real struggle for me. Due to my childhood history, I grew up obsessed with how others viewed me. I was overly-sensitive to any negative feedback regardless of the intent to help me. This harmed me in many ways and led to my hypersensitivity to constructive criticism.
4. Openly working on our weaknesses so they don’t become the limiting factors in our success.
This is a mindset of how to approach our lives in general. Otherwise, our weaknesses will become the limiting factors in our success. Everything starts with the willingness to be open and honest with ourselves.
When we are honest with ourselves, we become more self-aware, and we can enroll the support of others for feedback and accountability. Trying to hide our weaknesses doesn’t make sense since they’re obvious to everyone anyway. This amounts to our willingness to be vulnerable. People connect with and respect people more who are willing to be vulnerable. Research has shown that people connect on vulnerabilities (courageous openness) rather than strengths. Harvard Business Review published an article about this in 2014. The most effective business and human relations practice is to be authentic and vulnerable rather than to try to tout our greatness! How do you feel about people who tout their greatness?
When we consider each of these personal growth areas, they’re exactly the same characteristics that lead to our career growth. A significant deficiency in any one of these areas can derail our career success.
The best part about making personal growth a key focus in our lives is that we benefit in every area of our lives rather than work alone. It’s like two for the price of one! It puts us in control of our quality of life.
My invitation is to take a few moments to consider which areas of your personal growth are helping your career results and which are harming them. Then consider options to take small steps forward to maximize your potential and performance.