When I began my career as a letter carrier, I knew that was my entryway into the federal workforce. But I also knew that IT was not my final destination. If I wanted to advance in my career, I had to do what my co-workers were not willing to do. So I volunteered for extra work assignments, helped my supervisors with their workload, and whenever I saw a void, I quickly filled it. In less than three years, I was supervising the very office that I had started out in as a letter carrier. And not only that, I had the respect and cooperation of every employee in the building because they saw my strong work ethic.
Do you want to advance in your chosen career field? If so, then take the following examples as a lesson.
1. Look for ways to add value.
In his book, Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, author Adam Grant shows that those who give in business are the ones that get ahead. When you proactively seek out ways to add value for others, you set yourself up to receive what you want in the future.
Venture capitalist David Hornik, profiled in Grant’s book, gives entrepreneurs a chance to present ideas to him. If he’s intrigued, he backs the deal with his own money. He also gives in other ways. He openly shares information on his blog and even responds to emails from complete strangers. That’s how I was able to interview him. Hornik believes that success comes when you routinely pay attention to the needs of other people and find a way to fulfill that need. As Albert Einstein once said, “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” When you strive to be of value, your success is sure to follow. Who can you add value to in your company?
Action Item: Set an alarm on your cell-phone and block out 15-20 minutes once a week to jot down new ideas you can begin implementing at your workplace that will help add value to your employer.
2. Give with no expectation to receive.
I recently subscribed to the email list of Selena Soo. She is a publicity and business coach. In a case study she sent me, she mentions that she went from $0 to $157,000 in her first year as a coach. How you might ask? She did it by giving. That was a game-changer for her. When she realized giving with no expectation of return was the way to ethically get ahead, she did just that. She shares how she helped New York Times Best-Seller Ramit Sethi. He asked her for some feedback on his new website, and instead of just saying she liked version A or B, she dissected his website with some friends and sent him a detailed report with her feedback. She didn’t have to do this, but she did. She gave him more than what he asked for and was able to stand out. When she needed his assistance in the future, he was more than happy to help.
What can you take away from Soo’s example? At your place of employment, how can you give more? How can you do more of what is expected of you? What would you want someone to do for you? Why not do that for someone at your job, whether it’s a co-worker or your boss?
Action Item: Get into the habit of skimming a lot of publications. Bookmark articles of interest and send the articles to key people in your organization with an email saying: “FYI, thought this might interest you.”
3. Focus on helping others succeed.
The 2015 Dream Project Symposium is the brainchild of CEO Teneshia Jackson Warner. This is not just your ordinary business conference, but a symposium for all individuals who dare to dream bigger for their lives and businesses. I had the opportunity to interview Warner, and she made one bold move that can help anyone be successful in their job.
“One day while at a conference, I bumped into Russel Simmons,” Warner said. “I knew this was my opportunity, so I pitched myself to him and told him I wanted to volunteer to work for him in exchange for an opportunity to learn from him. He gave me his fax number, when faxes were in vogue, and for 30 days straight, I faxed him my resume.” It worked. She eventually began working for Simmons as a volunteer and gained valuable experience that led to her starting her own business.
Did you happen to catch what Warner did that helped her to succeed? She volunteered. She discovered that you have to give first in order to get. One of my favorite quotes is by Zig Ziglar, which says, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” When you help others succeed by volunteering to help them, you will be remembered by them. After Warner helped Simmons for free, wouldn’t you know that he became her very first client? How can this help you in your career? Who could you help? What could you volunteer to do?
Action Item: Identify who you can help in your job. Research what they need help with. Make a list of how you can add value. Do it. Rinse and repeat. Remember, it can be as simple as forwarding an article that interests them, saying thank you, or congratulating them on a job well done.
Featured photo credit: Steve Wilson via flickr.com