This is post is about how you can make a difference when you are starting out – a difference to yourself and to those around you at work, in your sporting team or community organisation. When you are bottom of the organisational ladder, without a special skill or years of experience, you can still stand out and add plenty to the performance of the team and its culture. Whilst you will need considerable mental toughness in the form of resolve, resilience and energy using these simple strategies below will help you build a winning mind-set leading to a successful career.
1) Be the most positive person in the room
Positive people create magic in an organisation. Being consistently positive, day in day out, whether those around you are negative, positive or indifferent builds an energy and an aura. This can be really difficult when you are uncertain and learning new skills, often making mistakes and poor decisions. However, whilst people might intermittently doubt and criticise your capability, don’t let them doubt your positive attitude.
The simple tips are to be:
- energetic and enthusiastic;
- learn and then remember everyone’s name; and
- find a common reference point; a connection with each person which can be related to family, leisure pursuits, sporting teams or even the weather.
Be respectful and uncontroversial but always be positive.
It starts in the morning with a cheery hello and finishes at the end of the day with a cheery farewell.
Your positivity also extends to being genuinely respectful, grateful and appreciative of the efforts of those people around you. Being positive AND well-mannered is a winning combination.
2) Work harder than anyone else
Working at the bottom of the pyramid isn’t glamorous. You start with the worst jobs and responsibilities but the way off the bottom is to work harder than anyone else. Start earlier, finish later and be more focused and productive than people expect you to be. And be positive – did I mention positive?
It might take a while but the right people will notice you and reward you with more responsibility and a way off the bottom rung.
3) Learn to listen
Active listening is a valuable and underrated skill. My first boss told me “you have two ears one mouth, use them in that proportion” which I did and have done since. Listening gives you valuable information and time. If you are actively listening, you gain insights to situations and motivations that you may have missed altogether if you were talking and which can help you make more informed responses when it comes time for you to speak.
4) You win some, you learn some – benefit from your failures
When you have no experience you don’t know what you don’t know. All experience is new experience and so you are likely to make plenty of mistakes and poor decisions because you don’t know any better. You will fail and face setbacks and resistance which is perfectly normal and it is important to see these failures as temporary setbacks disguised as learning opportunities.
Seek feedback on what happened, how you handled it, and how it all turned out. Is there something you should do differently next time? If so make a mental note to try again with a different twist or technique in order to achieve a different outcome. Then pack it away and move on. Don’t dwell for too long on the setback or failure.
5) Own your own work
Once you are assigned responsibility for something assume ownership for the process and the outcome. It’s yours whether it succeeds or fails and most importantly if it fails, then take full ownership for the failure. Don’t try and shift the blame on someone else or find an excuse. It happened on your watch. Own up to it and accept the consequences.
What generally happens if you accept the consequences and are sufficiently contrite and humble is that others are more forgiving and respectful towards you in the future.
6) Become absolutely reliable
Being reliable starts with being at work on or preferably before time and then completing your work to the best of your ability, and hopefully to the required standard, most, if not all, of the time. Once people learn that you are reliable they assign more and more responsible tasks to you until you stop being reliable or where you don’t have (yet) the required technical skills and experience.
These are all simple strategies that can be applied wherever you are on your career path although many people lose sight of them as they gain technical skills and work experience.
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