Tag Archives: Personal Impact

A gift is not enough

You’re gifted, blessed with talent.  You’re fortunate to have it but it’s not enough.  It’s not an exclusive gift, others have it too.  There are no guarantees.

You’ve been given a head-start, but what next?  What are you going to do with it?  Milk it?  Take it for as much as you can?  Or will you work, develop your talent, try to create something special, something truly to be admired.

It’s easy to take it for granted, after all you’ve known nothing else.  However, before you know it you’ve missed your window of opportunity, all you are left with is regrets, dreams of what might have been.

Talent is a gift, but in itself it’s not enough.

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The smartest person in the room

As the smartest person in the room you carry an obligation; you have the choice of whether to play along or run interference, to educate or ridicule, to clarify or confuse, to participate or opt out.

Others may try, but the outcome is largely in your control; it’s yours to shape and deliver.

It’s a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. Everyone is looking to you.  How will you respond?

Question yourself

How much time do you spend sweating details that really don’t matter, that aren’t considered important, and no-one really cares about?

It’s part of your role, what was expected of you and something that you’ve always done, but is it still necessary?  Is it of value?

Without validating what we do from time to time, we run the risk of wasting time and effort, of becoming irrelevant.

Just stopping is rarely an option.  Without checking first it could create a real issue and smack of insubordination, however it doesn’t need to be confrontational.  It is not unreasonable to ask how the outputs of your work are used, what you can do to improve them, or make the more valuable.

It’s easy to keep doing what we do, to blindly continue without question.  However, it’s important to keep moving forwards, to improve and progress.  Question what you do, look for opportunities to offer more.  After all, if you don’t ask the questions somebody else might!

Testing the boundaries

Moving to a new role provides an opportunity to ask questions, to challenge assumptions and test the boundaries.  Taking on other people’s problems, the situation must be assessed, course corrections made and the future direction set.

However, the window of opportunity is finite, and will vary depending on the audience.  All too quickly the problems become yours.  Time to change gear and shape the solution, to lead.

There comes a point when continuing to test the boundaries is inappropriate, it appears confrontational, overly negative, that you’re shirking your responsibilities, out of touch, or struggling to understand the situation.

No-one will tell you when the window of opportunity is closing, misreading the signs can be damaging, terminal even.  Take advantage of it, test the boundaries, assess the situation and then step up to take the lead.  After all, it’s why you were selected in the first place.

Getting attention

Reward requires recognition.  Recognition requires attention.  So, what do you need to do to get attention at work?

I’m obviously talking about positive attention here.  Negative attention is counterproductive.  If you’re looking for a reward, positive attention is the way to go.

There are some basic criteria for positive attention seekers:

  • Show up:
    If you’re not there you can’t make a positive impact.  In reality it’s more than just showing up.  In most organisations it also matters when you show up.  You don’t have to work all hours, but being the last one to show every day probably isn’t the best idea.
  • Do your job:
    If you regularly need to be prompted to do your job, you’re probably not heading in the right direction.  Be low maintenance.  If you want to be described as reliable, trustworthy, hardworking, etc.  you need to start by taking care of your own business.
    If you’re not exactly sure what your job is then it’s not such a basic problem, but it’s still a problem.  Ask!  It’s also a problem if you think you know, but other’s have a different view.  Again, ask!

I said they were basic criteria, but many people fail on them.  Before moving on to the “advanced” list, give yourself an honest appraisal on these.  If you don’t pass with flying colours, I’d focus on this short list before moving on.

  • Be positive:
    There’s too much negativity around.  People like interacting with positive people.  If you’re positive, you will have an unfair advantage over the majority of your colleagues.  Look for the bright spots.  Think solutions rather than problems.  Smile!
  • Stand out:
    Understand which aspects of your role are the most important and focus on improving them so you do outstanding work.  There are lots of other factors in play, but ultimately this will be the clincher.  Don’t expect to get the positive attention you desire without it!
    It’ll help if your boss has a common view of what’s important.  If you’re not sure, ask.  If you need help to do an outstanding job (training, more people, better tools, etc.), ask.
  • Don’t duck the tough stuff:
    From time to time, you will encounter challenges.  Don’t be afraid to take them on.  Someone has too.  If they always get passed up the chain, it will undermine your good work.
    If you need to, ask for help.  Come with ideas or suggestions.  Be willing to play your part in addressing the issue.  Be willing to do more than your fair share if necessary.
  • Value the attention you get:
    Make the most of the time you get with your boss.  Prepare for your interactions.  Treat their time with respect.  Make them as valuable as possible.  Be grateful.
  • Put yourself in their shoes:
    If you are able to effectively think about things from your bosses perspective you’re more likely to get things right more of the time.  Consider the situation, the context, recent events, their mood, before engaging.  Be sensitive.  It may not always feel like it, but the are people too!
  • Do good things consistently:
    If you really want to seal the deal, consistently do good things.  Even better, consistently do great things!  In time, consistency will bring attention.  It will take time.  Consistency itself is remarkable and will get recognised.

Hopefully some or all of these will help!  If you genuinely think you’ve earned it, and the attention isn’t forthcoming there may be bigger issues at play, but you’ll be able to look yourself in the mirror and say “At least I tried!”.

Making the portfolio work

Portfolio working can be attractive.  It can provide interesting and challenging work, focusing on your strengths and passions with variety to break the monotony of the day to day grind.

Operating independently, it can be both rewarding and satisfying.  Living on your wits, building a network, leveraging the connections, making a living from what you love, what you enjoy.

It’s so much better than a proper job.

However…

You need to have something to sell.  Something of value.  Something that other people will pay for.

Be clear on your objectives.  What are you trying to achieve?  Be honest with yourself.  Write it down.  Refer to it often.

Success is unlikely to come overnight.  Patience will be key, together with confidence and persistence to overcome the doubt and uncertainty,

Thick skin will help, to protect you from the naysayers.  There will be many, often closer than you would wish.

Ideally you’ll already have a patron, a reliable client or a proven market.  It takes a lot to beat the rush of the first sale, the first payment.

Prioritise.  Initially everything will be attractive.  In time you’ll be swamped, lost in the noise.  You must be able to say “No!”.

Manage your time carefully.  The line between “work” and “life” will blur.  Set the boundaries and defend them.

Decide.  Commit.  Make it work!

Do it right today and benefit tomorrow (When to put a little more effort in)

You just want to get a task done, to put it to bed and move on.  In many situations that makes sense – don’t do more than you have to.  But there may be a better approach…

Invest a little more time.  Further develop the idea.  Work on the language.  Polish the presentation.  Make it something special.  Memorable.  Something that you can draw upon, refer to, copy, in the future.

Do it right today and benefit tomorrow.

Take advantage of the fact that you’re on a roll.  You’ve come this far.  You’re in “the zone”.  Making the decision to take it that step further will give you a boost.  It’s your choice.  You will be the long term beneficiary.  In the short term you get pride and satisfaction.

You won’t always be able to do it.  There aren’t enough hours in the day.  In making the decision, consider your immediate customer, and also think about what else the product could be used for.  Is this a one-off or could the idea be re-used, re-cycled, re-sold?  Everything you produce is an investment in your reputation, but is there a bigger prize to go after?

Build a portfolio of your work.  Make it accessible.  Look at it frequently.  Admire what you’ve produced.  Build on it.

Do it right today and benefit tomorrow.