Do you ever wonder why other people get picked for assignments, projects, or promotions and you don’t? It’s a common thread among coaching clients. Individuals we’ve talked to have gone so far as to think that the organization, or their boss, has it “in” for them and they will never get the chance to do something different. Unfortunately, the more time that passes, the more people feel this is happening to them and it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.
When talking to someone in this situation, I’ll often remind them of something I heard Zig Ziglar say once. “When you point a finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you”. At this point you have to ask yourself the following question. What part of the problem am I?
You see, most of the time the individual we’re coaching has talents, interests, and knowledge inside them that’s just waiting to burst out. They are just waiting for someone to ask them to contribute. Worse yet, they think that they need (or deserve) a promotion before they will contribute in a different way. In other words, they are telling themselves a story that they will only share their talents and contribute in a different way, if someone is willing to pay them for it. Therein lies the problem.
Remember this mantra. Say it to yourself a few times to be sure you have it. Contribution before promotion. It’s very easy to think that other people are just getting promoted at random and you are not. In reality, what’s happening is they are demonstrating something to their leaders that lets them know they are ready for that promotion or special project.
This is why, when it comes to your career and future. You are your own best advocate. It’s up to you to take the initiative to prove that you have the skills, abilities, and passion to do something that you are interested in. In other words, you have to stand out from the crowd. If you want to be a manager, you have to demonstrate your ability to contribute through other people. You don’t have to be promoted to do this. It can be as easy as taking a new person in your group under your wing and coaching them. Help them gain the skills necessary to be successful as well as teaching them the organizational nuances that will help them be successful more quickly.
Doing this brings your talents out into the open and coming out of your cubicle and becoming more visible (literally and figuratively) to other parts of the organization will help get your contributions noticed.
Standing out is not limited to coaching alone. Some people are not naturally good at developing others. That’s ok. Maybe you have an idea for a process improvement or new product / service that will benefit the company. Take some time in the evenings and on the weekend to put your thoughts and ideas to paper. Think through what it would take to make your desired changes happen and what anticipate the roadblocks along the way and what would need to be done to remove them. Once you have a good plan, schedule a time to meet with your manager or other potential sponsors and share your ideas. Even if the idea isn’t accepted, you will have shown the initiative to come up with a new idea. Again, helping you stand out from the crowd.
Make no mistake. Today’s organization is a crowded place and each and every person is juggling a variety of priorities. You are the only person with enough of a vested interest in your success to make sure others know what you can contribute. Go out there and stand out from the crowd!