You can make a difference.
The internet is full of self-help stories, posts and countless lists about ways to succeed. Eg., the five things you must do now, 21 ways to get ahead, one step to a better career, etc. No shortage of direction.
And while there's lots to consume – with much of it quite helpful I should add – sometimes its a little overwhelming. I often have to read things twice to really understand them, and that means its more complex than I (and perhaps others) can really access.
Is there an easier way to make a difference?
Little things count.
While credentials, education and experience count, the small things we do or don't do every day have an impact. What can you start today?
- Listen – the workplace is full of people willing to tell, talk and verbally walk all over others. Be different. Be patient. Be kind. Listen. A lot. Much of what you hear may be self-serving nonsense (at least in Western culture) but every now and then there's a gem. And your ability to listen will be noted. You will be sought out. People will gravitate to you. Everyone wants to be heard. Become a better listener.
- Follow up – this old-school technique of personally reaching out is an easy one to dust off and will make an immediate difference in your creds at work. How many times during the day does some step, action or response get missed because someone didn't get the message. Despite txts, email, IM and other tools sometimes its best to pick up the phone or walk down the hall and ensure someone heard the latest. Become known as someone who follows up: this simple discipline will raise your value.
- Meet commitments – that old bullshit about asking for forgiveness is just that: bullshit. Be mindful of what you commit to, write that shit down and do it. Excuse makers seldom get ahead, and no one wants to follow someone without integrity. Starting today ensure that you track your commitments, meet them and close the loop. Maybe you have to start promising less, but whatever it takes do what you say you will. Relentlessly.
- Stay positive – no one believes in being a Pollyanna, but the simple truth is no one follows a whiner either. Acknowledging challenges, constraints and checks is prudent and helpful, but if you default to a negative outlook consistently finding the downside in every opportunity or demand you will soon rub people the wrong way. They will avoid you. And in a collaborative world you can't afford to have people avoid you – look for solutions, alternatives and options. Being real while being positive can be done.
- Say thanks – whether a verbal acknowledgement, a written card, a box of cupcakes or a bouquet depends on the situation at hand, but become known as someone who says thanks sincerely and readily. Of all the things you could do today to improve your professional lot this is perhaps the most impactful and easiest yet many of us don't. The reasons are many and in a future blog I'll dissect same, but for the moment let's make this clear: saying thanks doesn't weaken you – it makes you more powerful.
There you have it. A short list of little things you can do every day to improve your professional life. Best of all, even a simple person like me can understand them.
Go forth and prosper. (And say thanks).