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Will The Real You Please Stand Up

Will The Real You Please Stand Up

Influencers are everywhere. They’re not just the writers, thinkers, and politicians of this world. Anyone who trains, teaches, negotiates, advises or sells is an influencer. In our business – as in our personal – lives our success is to some degree the product of our ability to influence others.

We’re already acutely aware of this, and for most of us, it represents a problem. It’s a problem because we see in ourselves personal weaknesses, and these we define as impediments to our success – things that stop us from achieving, things that hold us back.

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We all have something about ourselves that we would like to change. Personal insecurity or social anxiety makes it difficult for us to speak to strangers. Lack of education or experience makes us feel inferior and inadequate. Lack of self-assurance, whether on its own or resulting from the preceding, kills our confidence, and stands between us and the success we want.

This affects us in many ways. At work, socially, and in our personal lives. We don’t measure up to the competition – for this job, that opportunity, or the attractive girl in the corner.

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Those things about ourselves that we’d like to change, we internally characterize as “faults.” That’s why we’d like to change them. We see them like this by agreement with ourselves, that they are weaknesses which we cannot control and which diminish us as people.

Self-image is entirely subjective and uniquely critical.

We don’t realise how common this is. It’s a part of the human condition, it’s everywhere, but we tend to recognize it only in ourselves. We see successful people and our response is “I wish I could be like her,” or, “He’s got something I don’t have.” And so, when we set out to influence others – by selling to them, teaching them, negotiating with them – we are confronted, and hampered, by a sense of our weakness, and the belief that it makes us less effective. How do we react? By bluffing. We pretend to be someone and something that we don’t think we are because we’ve already agreed with ourselves that we’re not.

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For all this is a natural approach, it’s the wrong approach. It’s the wrong approach because it fails to understand the most fundamental component of influence-based success. Trust.

Question: What, more than anything, do we look for in those we allow to influence us? Answer: Authenticity. In the round. We relate to people we like, and that we see as genuine, even if flawed. We look at their story as a whole. We don’t choose our influencers for their unique brilliance. We choose them for their unique, individual, perspective.

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Everyone has one of those. Everyone’s story is unique. It’s the real you – the product of who we are as much as of where we’ve been and what we’ve done. And none of us is perfect. We’re all different, but where we’re the same is we’re all a combination of strengths and weaknesses. Our particular combination, married to our experiences, is what makes each of us unique. The reality is that your USP is the sum of your whole story, and those “weaknesses” are an essential component of the greatest asset you have.

How you are is who you are. If you’re not comfortable with the real you, then you’ve got a problem. Because when you try to present a different, modified persona you sacrifice your authenticity. That’s not hard to spot and, chances are, you don’t succeed.

You can’t be likeable if you don’t like yourself.

Accept yourself as you are. It’s why the people who already like you, like you. Be entirely yourself and so will others. That matters because to trust you, people have to like you. You can’t be a likeable person unless you like yourself. And once you get comfortable with yourself and accept that this is what and who you are, the things you weren’t happy about will assume a whole new definition. Nobody does everything well; imperfection is not simply normal it’s universal and, viewed from that perspective, your subconscious stops telling you that you’re not capable. And once you’ve embraced the real you there’s no pressure to be something different.

Here’s an example: Novice salesmen tend to be less successful than their more experienced colleagues. This doesn’t just apply to salesmen of course, but salesmen are what I know. They attribute this lack of success to their lack not of experience, but technique. Almost every new salesman I ever trained believed that there is a secret, magic trick to selling and that learning it was the key to success- not knowing it was what was holding them back. In that category, I include my younger self, incidentally. That vital secret proved elusive and in the end, I did what I should have been doing all along. I told my customers: “I’m new to this, and I’m not an expert salesman. But I know the product. So I’ll explain it to you, I’ll answer any questions you may have, and I’ll give you a price.” A strange and wonderful thing happened. In being open, honest and transparent, I took all the pressure off myself. I had no need, or reason, to pretend I was someone different. And I took all the pressure off the customers who, as is the case, felt intimidated by slick salesmen. The more I did this, the more I sold. And the more experience I developed, the more I realized that there is, in fact, no magic secret. People are influenced by people – real people. And we already are, each of us, a real person.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up.

You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out. But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

Check out these important listening skills: 13 Powerful Listening Skills to Improve Your Life at Work and at Home

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

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4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

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These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

Not sure how to find the right mentor? Here’s How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

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You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

More About Continuous Growth

Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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