The 40-year service anniversary. The 8:00-5:00 daily grind. Climbing the corporate ladder. Are you living the American dream? Are you prepared for your opportunity to live the dream? Thanks to economic factors, technology, political unrest, and the changing attitudes of employers and workers, the employment landscape is evolving at a rapid speed. Organizations of all sizes commonly plan, prepare and adapt for strategic growth to positively impact their bottom line. Individual professionals, however, too often achieve a level of success and then mistakenly take a seat in the waiting room – waiting for their environment to change or someone to trigger their next step of continued growth.
Now is the time to drive your opportunity, your American dream, your destiny. In practical terms this might mean for you, keeping a client, securing a new client, delivering an effective presentation, conducting a successful interview, facilitating a meeting. The point is, all of the disruption happening around us right now is also creating tremendous opportunity. If you are sitting on your haunches, waiting for something to fall in your lap or tap your shoulder, you will be left sitting in the waiting room alone – not because opportunity doesn’t pass by you but because you won’t recognize it when it does.
Follow these simple action steps to create your next opportunity or at the very least recognize when it passes by.
Step 1. Know Thyself.
If you don’t know who you are or what you want, no one else will either. This is your job – not the boss/employer, not the client and not the interviewer. Regularly ask yourself who you are, what is important to you and what you want in your life/profession and then put your responses on paper. Whether it is using a vision board, a notebook, a napkin –your written answers will be your foundation and provide objectivity when you are making decisions such as next job selection, client fi t and association participation.
Practical Use: Increase your effectiveness by 2-5 minutes prior to a meeting. Take some quiet time and on a notepad write down your greatness, your strengths, who you want to be in the meeting. Write each thought three times. Then get up, stand up straight, toss the paper in the trash and go for it!
Step 2. Ask the “Right” Question.
The answers to Step 1 will allow you to identify what is worth asking for so you can then focus on asking the “right” questions. This refers both to the questions you ask yourself, (i.e. What outcome do you want? How are you going to get there? Who are you going to be in the conversation?), and the questions you ask of others. The simple act of asking can build a team, solve complex issues, direct your decision path, create collaboration, identify opportunity, secure new business and make new friends.
Practical Use: In any conversation (client, interview, employee, friend) notice when you are assuming. Assuming is the trigger to know there is another question to be asked. Clarity lies in the answer to the next question.
Step 3. Your Network.
Paul Revere is credited for traveling through the night, announcing the arrival of the British so the Colonies could assemble and defend itself. William Dawes, a second man, traveled further in the opposite direction of Paul and actually talked with a greater number of people. Yet it is Paul’s name we remember. It is said that Paul’s network was more diverse and made up of power players so Paul’s contacts were the start of several webs of people who all spread the word to more people. Paul didn’t do it on his own; he spoke with a few key players in his network who had their own individual networks. What does your network look like? Who is in it – does everyone look like you? How diverse is it? How big of a reach does it have? When you need something, where do you go? Who do you go to? Expand your network by building a variety of circles…work, community organizations, associations/non-profits within your interest areas (religious, sports, animals).
Practical Use: In your chosen circles, demonstrate who you are and what you can do by taking on the challenges or “dirty projects” within those groups. People will begin to know you, experience you and remember you.
We live in a world of opportunity. Living the American dream is still possible. Be on the offensive in your life and career. This is not a dress rehearsal. Be ready now and…
• State: Who you are
• Identify: What I am
• Ask: How can we help each other?