“Your big opportunity may be right where you are now.” – Napoleon Hill
How often are we torn between the memories of yesterday and the unknown of tomorrow? Whilst our abilities to look up and out, forward and back are vitally important to our success, there is a real danger in not focusing our efforts and energies on where we are at TODAY. Not only does it see us risking future opportunities but it can also leave us feeling very impatient and dissatisfied with where we are at in our careers and what knowledge, experience and expertise we currently have.
As John C Maxwell notes, most of us look at our days in the wrong way: we exaggerate yesterday, we overestimate tomorrow and we underestimate today! The reality is it is what we do today that really counts! It has the power to consolidate, repair and move forward on our previous day’s works whilst also setting up our next steps and future directions. It also enables us to feel a sense of control, purpose and satisfaction in what we do and the building blocks we are creating.
In working with many senior business leaders there is an ever-emerging struggle that many face in balancing future focused, visionary thinking – in a market that feels like it is changing faster than the speed of light – with the reality of where we are at today. We all need goals and we all need a vision for where we are heading that we believe in. BUT, failing to recognize the opportunity and associated responsibilities we have right now – this minute – is self limiting, career damaging and risky business practice.
As leaders our role is to help our people navigate the journey from today to future ‘what is possible’ states of play. We can’t effectively do that without getting clear on where we are currently at and what knowledge, skills and relationships we need to focus on to prepare us to move forward. Forming an accurate view of where our skills and value lies allows us to make decisions about what we can immediately do, calmly and on purpose. It helps take the emotions out of the process and avoids the risk of impulsive shortsighted decisions.
In what I have often referred to as Career Currency, I believe that there are four key areas that each of us should individually assess. In doing so it will help us make practical informed career decisions about the actions we can take today to invest and improve the value of our currency. I would encourage you to think about the value of your currency in light of the following areas:
- Performance: How is my performance regarded, evidenced and valued in my current role? Consider elements such as: ability, output, motivation, consistency, ambition and attitude.
- Potential: How am I demonstrating and communicating my potential? Consider elements such as: past and future learning, growth, ambition and desire.
- Relationships: What is the strength and health of my professional relationships? Consider both internal and external relationships and elements such as effort, influence and collaboration.
- Style: How is my style contributing to or hindering my success? Consider elements such as communication, EQ, resilience, intent and behaviour.
Your ability to accurately assess the strength of these four currency attributes not only provides you with an insight into what your career value is but most importantly it can help you determine what actions you can take today to invest in your future opportunities -either internally or externally. Furthermore the clarity you gain about yourself will help you identify the right opportunities that recognise your value and compliment your style.
Loss of direction, purpose and motivation all dramatically affect the value of your career currency and present some of the greatest career dangers. At a time when businesses are more focused than ever on efficiency and cost management, establishing a firm appreciation of where you are at today and what you can do today to maximise your opportunities has never been more important. Not only does it help you build a strong sense of ownership and empowerment but also clarity and confidence about your career direction.
As leaders we need to not only ensure that we are taking daily action to maximize our current opportunities but also helping the people that we lead to do the same. For it is when we do that, we as individuals and the businesses we lead will achieve new levels of success.
So what actions are you taking TODAY – not tomorrow, next week or next quarter – to move you and your team forward?
As always I would love to hear your thoughts.