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14 Signs Of People Who Advance Rapidly In Their Careers

14 Signs Of People Who Advance Rapidly In Their Careers

Have you ever wondered why some people advance rapidly in their careers and others don’t? Would you like to climb the ladder of success but don’t know how? Here are 14 traits of people who achieve great things by working strategically that can help catapult your career, too.

1. They Have a Clear Vision

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Successful people have a clear vision of what they want to do and don’t waver from it. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner not only aspired to reach the top of his profession but also to empower the workplace by managing compassionately. Jack Canfield, co-author of the mega-successful Chicken Soup for the Soul series, set his intention to “inspire and empower people to live to their highest vision in a context of love and joy” BEFORE writing his first book.

These sorts of personal mission statements enable professionals to go far in their chosen areas. What about you? Take the first step towards advancing your career by creating a clear vision statement of what you want to achieve in your field. Do you want to be a manager and leader? Say so!

2. They Aim High

“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” ~ Steve Martin

Those who rise rapidly up the ranks strive for excellence. They have a strong determination to succeed, constantly seek to improve themselves, and do outstanding work. To add ambition to your career plan, act as though you’ve already accomplished what you wrote down for your vision statement and take it up a notch. Describe what the next level would look like for you, and make THAT your vision statement. Don’t settle for less than what you really want.

3. They Believe in Themselves

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t you’re right.” ~ Henry Ford

People who get ahead in their careers express confidence in themselves and their work. They’re not arrogant or boastful (signs of low self-esteem). They’re simply certain of what they’re doing. When they don’t have the answers they openly admit it. They seek out the information they need and trust themselves to make good decisions.

The next time you’re worried about giving a presentation at work, take a moment to jot down 10 things you’ve accomplished in your life that you’re proud of and let that sense of certainty wash over you. Afterwards assess what worked and pat yourself on the back for it. Then determine what needs improvement and make revisions so that your next talk is even better.

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4. They Take the Initiative

“Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.” ~ Wolfgang von Goethe

Rather than waiting for something to happen, those who advance rapidly in their careers take the initiative. For example, if the boss is on vacation and the company runs out of materials, they’re the ones who order more and suggest putting a new procurement procedure in place. They make opportunities for themselves and ask for the positions and salary they want.

To advance your career, be pro-active. Use your vision statement to generate goals for yourself, your department, and your company. Get specific about when, where, and how you’ll achieve them by breaking them down into sub-goals. Do the easiest one first to start gaining momentum.

5. They Stay Focused

“I may not be there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday.” ~  Jose N. Harris

In today’s world of information overload, we need to stay focused to succeed. Those who are promoted quickly keep their eye on the ball no matter what happens around them. When work gets chaotic, projects collapse, and funds run low, they actively search for pockets of time to accomplish their goals anyway. They are disciplined, do things step by step, and finish what they start.

To stay focused on what’s important, make it a practice to record your goals for each week the weekend before. Then review them each morning before you start your day and tackle the hardest thing first. That way you’ll ensure you keep making progress during uncertain times.

6. They Use Failure as Feedback

“Failure gives you a chance to refine your approach. You’re taking risks more and more intelligently.” ~ Pete Athans (climbed Mt. Everest 7 times)

No one likes to fail  But when things don’t go as planned, people who succeed in their careers take responsibility. They don’t blame others or beat themselves up. Instead they reflect on what limiting thoughts or destructive habits could have led to the undesirable outcome. They understand that setbacks are natural, learn from their “mistakes,” and use the negative experience to improve their performance in the future.

The next time you fail, rather than getting upset and feeling like a victim, calmly ask yourself “What do I need to do differently next time to get the result I want?” View it as an opportunity to grow, course correct, and move forward using the information you gleaned from objectively studying the situation.

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7. They Crave Criticism

“He who wants a rose must respect the thorn.” ~ Persian proverb

Sir Richard Branson purposefully embeds “mavericks” into every Virgin company to ensure its success because he knows that yes men kill innovation. Those who succeed quickly in their fields ask for feedback, learn from it, and use it to refine their approach.

If someone criticizes you in the workplace, take a deep breath and determine whether the naysayer has a point. Consider the source. If you trust the person and the feedback resonates, integrate it into the way you do things and do better next time.  (Yes, I know this one is tough.)

8. They Change with the Times

“The things we fear most in organizations – fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances – are the primary sources of creativity.” ~  Margaret J. Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science

The world is changing at a rapid pace. Those who move ahead promptly in their careers don’t hold tightly to the status quo. They are open and flexible and seize opportunities the moment they present themselves. They are flexible with the changing demands of the business, generate new ideas, and suggest ways to integrate innovation into business strategies.

To climb the ladder of success, make it a priority to keep up with what’s happening your area of expertise and related fields. Invite smart people out to lunch, take classes, and read. Update your skills to stay cutting-edge and constantly alter your goals to keep current.

9. They Follow Their Passions

“If you don’t love something, you’re not going to go the extra mile, work the extra weekend, challenge the status quo as much.”  ~  Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs passionately studied calligraphy and his aesthetic sense still distinguishes Apple products today. Those who reach the top of their fields follow what has heart and meaning in their lives. They choose to work for companies that share their values or they work for themselves. Business based on hobbies are more likely to turn a profit because these entrepreneurs persevere during tough times, even if  they don’t make money initially, because they love what they do.

If you’re in a job that doesn’t bring out the best in you, do something else. Find companies that align with your vision statement. Or if the entrepreneurial lifestyle appeals to you, ask yourself how you can you turn your passion into a business you love.

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10. They Have A Good Sense of Timing

“You don’t have to swing hard to hit a home run. If you got the timing, it’ll go.” ~ Yogi Berra

According to Bill Gross’s recent TED talk, the number one factor that accounts for why start ups succeed is that their product came out at the right time. Those who soar in their fields have a good sense of timing.

To move ahead at work, keep abreast of what’s happening in your workplace and the world at large. Watch for changing trends and get a sense for when the time is right to release a new product or seek a promotion.

11. They Surround Themselves with Winners

“Start with good people, lay out the rules, communicate with your employees, motivate and reward them. If you do all those things effectively, you can’t miss.” ~  Lee Iacocca

Bill Gross found that the second most important factor that allowed startups to succeed was that they were based on strong teams. Those who excel in their industries know they can’t achieve their vision alone. They surround themselves with great teams and find powerful mentors to guide them.

To succeed in your career, carefully choose who you spend time with. Success rubs off. So does failure. Don’t get sidetracked by people who aren’t on track. Surround yourself with positive successful people both inside and outside of work.

12. They Stay Consistent

“In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.” ~ Tony Robbins

Those who rise to the top put consistent energy into their personal and professional lives rather than expending marathon energy. They achieve goals step by step and stay in constant contact with their staff, colleagues, and customers. They take breaks from heavy work schedules to maintain balance and ensure that they don’t run out of energy.

To avoid burnout and attain more consistency in your work, turn your goals into action items with due dates and space them out on your calendar so that they are achievable. Make sure to focus on your top one or two priorities. Tick off each goal as you reach it. That way you’ll be much less likely to lose touch with an important client or drop the ball on a game-changing plan.

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13. They Persevere

“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” ~  Steve Jobs

Success is not a straight line path to the top, but encompasses many troughs and valleys. Steve Jobs was fired from his own company (Apple), then founded NeXT and Pixar, and in the end returned to Apple. By the time she won Bammy’s Best NEW Artist Award, Gwen Stefanie had been singing with No Doubt for 10 years. Thomas Edison was fired from several jobs but kept his true passion for inventing and eventually obtained 1,093 patents. People who flourish in their careers keep the long game in mind.

When the path gets bumpy and you find yourself starting to give up, try a different method, route, or alternative to get what you want. Remember you always have options, and that you’re in good company if it’s taking longer than you thought to get where you want to go.

14. They Know When to Stop

“I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can’t truly be considered to be successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles.” ~  Zig Ziglar

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, people who succeed don’t work hard all the time. They take breaks when they experience diminishing returns, and have closing rituals to end their day. They organize their files, straighten their desks, and make a list of what to do tomorrow.

To succeed in your career, leave work at work and enjoy your hobbies, family, and friends during your time off. You’ll make room for breakthroughs and come back refreshed.

The good news is you don’t have to prioritize career advancement over everything else in your life to succeed in your profession. Work smart instead. You’ll get to the top fastest if you make a commitment to learn and hone these 14 skills of people who advance rapidly in their vocations. They’re not just reserved for career rock stars; you can master them, too. Why not start today?

Featured photo credit: Roger Stewart via blink.hdrinc.com

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Dr. Michelle Millis Chappel

Michelle is a psychology-professor-turned-rock-star who has helped thousands of people create successful meaningful lives by using their superpowers.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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