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Last Updated on November 14, 2018

Hard-Working People Climb to the Top, Smart People Hack It

Hard-Working People Climb to the Top, Smart People Hack It

Have you ever played the team-building game called Bigger or Better?

The game is like an adult version of Trick or Treat and works in the following way:

You start off with a small item such as a paperclip or pencil, and you have to try to turn it into something more valuable by doing small trades with other players. If you play the game skillfully, you can eventually exchange your small item into something more expensive (e.g., an iPhone or a bicycle).[1]

    The reason the game is often played in team-building exercises, is that it demonstrates how successful people get from the bottom to the top. The game also shows how insignificant items (like a paperclip), after trading with different people, can end up becoming something big and substantial.

    Just as in the make-believe game of Bigger or Better, there is a little-known way of reaching the top in your chosen career.

    Stop Climbing, Start Hacking

    The method involves not just finding a career ladder and trying to climb it, but switching ladders at appropriate times, with the aim of bypassing ‘dues’ and accelerating along your very own Bigger or Better cycle. The idea of switching career ladders has been well developed by author Shane Snow in his book Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success.

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    Shane Snow is a journalist, web entrepreneur and the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Contently – a tech platform that matches qualified freelance journalists with online media outlets in the rapidly changing world of publishing. He was named Inc Magazine’s “Inc. 30 Under 30” in July 2012, and Business Insider’s “Silicon Valley’s 100 Coolest People In Tech,” also in July 2012.

    The framework Shane created (and showcased in his book) is for anyone who wants to take their career to the next level in the most efficient way.

    His framework is very similar to Bigger or Better. However, instead of switching small items for bigger ones, and bigger ones for even bigger ones – you replace these items with your career choices. The idea is to create a winning cycle that accelerates your achievements and success. After lots of small wins, eventually you find yourself with a major win (think paperclip to bicycle).

      It’s the same for your career. Rather than following the traditional way of going step-by-step along the same straight path – you switch paths when the one you’re on is not working – or you switch based on your previous success to get something better.

      In his acclaimed book, Shane tells the story of how he ‘hacked’ his career ladder.

      He had a goal of becoming a writer for WIRED magazine, but knew that without relevant experience, this could take years to achieve. So, he put his creativity to work, and came up with the following process:

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      1. He put together a list of sites and magazines that if he wrote for, would impress the editor of WIRED.
      2. His list looked like this: The Next Web > Gizmodo > Mashable > Fast Company.
      3. He then applied to write for The Next Web (which is certainly not a simple feat – but definitely easier than trying to become a writer for WIRED).
      4. Once he was established as a writer for The Next Web (and had articles under his name as proof), he then applied to write for Gizmodo.
      5. I’m sure you can guess the next steps, which eventually led to him securing work as a writer for WIRED.

      Now, here’s the amazing part. From starting on the path to achieving his goal of writing for WIRED, Shane took just six months![2]

        It worked for him, and it can work for you too. Let’s see how.

        How This Method Fast-Tracks Your Success

        I’ll say it again, traditional career paths are slow. Mostly, this is caused by the conventional waiting periods needed to move up the ladder to higher positions.

        If you don’t mind spending years in the same role before moving up – then the traditional route may be the way for you. However, if you want to be competitive and innovative, forget the traditional way. It will frustrate you – and your career ambitions!

          So, what to do?

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          Well, firstly, think laterally rather than just vertically. By thinking laterally, you’ll immediately step outside of the career path that most people are trying to move along. This will give you an advantage over them.

          Just to be clear, by moving from time-to-time in a sideways direction doesn’t mean you’re changing your end goal. In reality, you’re just making your route to the top more flexible and adaptable.

          Now, here’s the key thing to remember. Once colleagues and managers see you as a success in one role, they’ll automatically assume that you’ll be successful in any other role that you’re placed in. In other words, success breeds success!

          Let’s dig a little deeper into how this method works.

          Every time you move to a new role or company, you’ll meet and attract new and varied people. And if you’re doing a good job, then these people will become your allies and partners. Think of it this way: you’ll be rapidly building your own personal network of individuals who can help support your goals and dreams.

          On the other hand, if you choose to stick to the traditional career ladder, it’s likely that you’ll have a limited network of contacts, as you’re only growing within a small department – or within the same organization.

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            The method is really just common sense. But it’s not something that we’re taught at school or college.

            So, are you ready to fast-track your career? Here are my recommended steps:

            • Know exactly what your end goal is.
            • Meet a minimum standard of credibility for any required tasks (either show years of experience, or show that you’ve ‘made it’ somewhere comparable).
            • Once you start off at the ground level, think of ways of how you can get to the next level (don’t limit yourself to the same ladder).
            • Keep going upwards by using new ladders and with the help of your ever-increasing network of contacts.

            Don’t Leave You Career to Chance

            Climbing the traditional career ladder is often a slow, laborious and frustrating experience. You may wait years for a promotion, only to find that a younger, less-experienced colleague has been given the job.

            So, decide on the big goal that you want to achieve, and then implement the methods suggested in this article to help you reach it. By following these little-known methods, you can enjoy a fun, adventurous and rewarding career.

            Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

            Reference

            More by this author

            Leon Ho

            Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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            Last Updated on September 10, 2019

            How Continuous Improvement Can Enhance Your Personal Life

            How Continuous Improvement Can Enhance Your Personal Life

            Kaizen is the Japanese philosophy and practice of continuous improvement. This concept of continuous improvement was first conceived in the USA during WW2.

            To maintain the production levels and meet demand, the industry had to come up with a system that would allow for incremental progress in production rather than no progress at all – which was very much the reality the industry was facing.

            This concept of consistent incremental improvement proved to be a huge success and saved the US manufacturing industry from a rapid decline.

            After WW2, as part of the rebuild programme for Japan, the Japanese were invited to visit manufacturing plants through out the USA. The Japanese took this successful concept of continuous improvement and adapted into Kaizen.

            This philosophy formed the base from which the Japanese have built a manufacturing industry that dominates the world today.

            In this article, I’ll look into what continuous improvement is and how you can make use of this concept to enhance your life.

            What does Kaizen (continuous improvement) have to do with you?

            So what does Kaizen have to do with us? How can it help us enhance our personal lives?

            “Persistence, perseverance, and continuous improvement are the ingredients for forming a successful person.” — Debasish Mridha

            While Kaizen was originally developed to help businesses improve and thrive, it’s just as applicable to our personal lives.

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            The Kaizen philosophy of continuous improvement I believe is a failure proof system that enables us to achieve and sustain our personal goals and dreams in life.

            The concept of continuous improvement offers us a way where we can live our lives to the fullest by continuously learning, growing and thriving.

            We live in a world of never ending disruption and change. By adopting the philosophy of Kaizen, we become more adaptable, flexible and resilient to dealing with the constant demands and disruptions we face in our lives.

            What continuous improvement is exactly

            The philosophy of Kaizen is based on the concept that instead of making big changes at once, the continuous improvement approach focuses on making small improvement over time.

            Kaizen is often referred to as the “strategy for 1% gains”. It is these 1% gains that athletes focus on to improve their performance. The 1% gains are incremental and if you keep building on the 1% gains the rewards are phenomenal.

            Continuous improvement is perpetual and so to maintain gains and improvement, you need to work on them continuously.

            Your personal improvement journey is never finished! What this means is, if you are truly committed to philosophy of continuous improvement, you are less likely to quit because you are always in search of the next goal.

            How continuous improvement empowers you

            How many New Year resolutions have you made and never achieved over the years?

            Unless you are one of the small minority who are goal orientated high achievers, maintaining motivation and the commitment to achieving your goals is hard work and dare I say it – with not much success – one big FAILURE after another.

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            Hence, these are the reasons why New Years’ resolutions are never achieved.

            Continuous improvement can help you to achieve any goals you set. If you commit to the practice of continuous improvement, your motivation to achieve your goals and aspirations in life will never die.

            “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” — Benjamin Franklin

            You will never have to struggle with the dilemma of giving up or giving in because it all became too hard.

            Your achievements and success in life will be as a result of you taking continuous incremental steps toward your goals.

            Continuous improvement is not about reaching the big goals in life but about taking small steps and improving and refining along the way.

            How to commit to continuous improvement

            If you truly desire a successful life where you are thriving, the first thing you must do is embrace and accept that your journey of self improvement and growth will never end. It is a lifelong journey of learning.

            Once you have accepted that your journey to improving your life is life long, you then follow these steps:

            1. Set your goals based on the philosophy of 1% incremental achievements

            Remember that setting the goal is the easy bit. Keeping motivated, focused and on track to achieving any goal is the hardest part.

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            The concept of continuous improvement provides you with a system or a process that if you commit to following will enable you to confidently achieve any goal you set- you are guaranteed to win.

            “Instead of trying to make radical changes in a short amount of time, just make small improvements every day that will gradually lead to the change you want. Each day, just focus on getting 1% better in whatever it is you’re trying to improve. That’s it. Just 1%.” — Brett and Kate McKay of The Art of Manliness

            It might not seem like much but continuous 1% improvement/achievements every day will gradually add up to 100% and the goal is achieved!

            In their book The Art Of Manliness, Brett and Kate McKay talk about how the journey of self improvement and personal growth is a lot like a rollercoaster ride – scary, exciting and with lots of ups and downs.

            They believe that by following the concept of Kaizen (the 1% improvement) every day enables you to get off the roller coaster ride of feeling like a failure and being angry with yourself because you keep giving up.

            2. Break down the system into small actions

            Continuous improvement is a journey of personal growth where you are making long-term steady progress. It is not about random bursts of improvement with fits and starts of activity. This approach to self-improvement will not give you the sustainable long-term changes you seek to improve your life or achieve your goals.

            For example, if you have huge debt and you want to pay it back but it is all too much, so you hide away from taking any action. To put the concept of continuous improvement into action, the first thing you need to do is not focus on how much you owe, instead focus on creating a system or process that enables you to pay back an incremental amount each week.

            Once you have created the system, you must break down the system into small actions or behaviours with the least resistance and effort. Commit to these actions on a daily basis until your original system is habit.

            Commit to paying back a realistic amount each week and then increase the amount you pay back by 1% plus every week after that. Keep going until the debt is paid off.

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            3. Keep track of your 1% success

            The other important factor about incremental achievement is that you must measure and keep track of your 1% successes.

            Evaluating and measuring your improvements are important for your own motivation and commitment to the journey. If you are not measuring your progress, your subconscious brain will kick in and sabotage your progress by convincing you that it is all too hard and you are not making any progress at all.

            Your subconsious brain only believes what you tell it. Unfortunately you have told your brain a lot of untruthful things over a long period of time about how you are a failure, not motivated and never really achieved anything in life. Your subconscious brain as a result believes all these “facts” that you have told it to be true.

            Measuring and evaluating your 1% successes is key to you retraining your subconscious to believe that Yes – you can achieve your goals and succeed in life!

            Focus on the progress, always

            Continuous Improvement does not focus on making huge gains or big improvements all at once. Instead it focuses on long-term steady progress.

            When you follow the philosophy of Continuous Improvement, you won’t radically change your life but over time with consistent and constant improvement and change, you will find that you are living your life to the fullest – empowered, resilient and thriving.

            Why would you not want to embrace this philosophy of incremental improvement and growth into your personal life?

            “Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will be a stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.” – Sir Winston Churchill

            Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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