“Be the best you can be—at the job you have today.” I have lived by these words for as long as I can remember. In this fast-paced age, where “to succeed”
is synonymous with “being on the fast-track,” many women derail because they are focusing on their next job—on where they want to be—instead of delivering on their current objectives. Once you have successfully delivered in your current role, you are in a better position, and better prepared, to move ahead.
“Be the best you can be” has the potential of sounding like trite advice—easily given and maybe easily forgotten. But here are five points that have helped me on my journey to be my best:
• ALWAYS ASK FOR FEEDBACK on what you could do better. Contrary to popular belief, people in the workplace are more apt to share positive feedback than constructive criticism. Unless you identify your weaknesses, as well as your strengths, you will never achieve your full potential. Unfortunately, people are hesitant to share negative impressions—the “buts” about a person, I call them. “That was a great presentation,” someone may tell you, leaving off the “but it went on too long.” You may disagree with the feedback, but you have to acknowledge and address the perception that people may have. Make sure you ask for, and learn, the “buts” about yourself.
- BE WILLING TO TAKE RISKS. Don’t look at risk as having a negative connotation; rather, see it as a possibility. The successes I am most proud of resulted from taking a variety of jobs that might have been considered a risk because they were only lateral, or not the “right,” career moves. However, these changes enhanced my skill set, broadened my perspective, and opened more opportunities. So, go ahead, be risky.
- BE OBJECTIVE. Don’t be so emotionally connected to “your” initiative that you refuse to see the opposing view. You will have more success, and garner more respect, when your arguments are fact-based and not emotionally driven.
- TAKE CARE OF YOUR TEAM. As much as you’ve been affected by those who’ve mentored you, you must also mentor those who follow. Guide them, give them the support they need, and above all else, listen to them. Don’t be afraid to be their coach. And don’t be afraid to help them to recognize their own “buts.”
- HAVE BALANCE IN YOUR LIFE. You know the old saying, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person?” That’s because they’ve learned to balance their priorities. In order to have balance in your life, you must focus only on those things you can control. I actually got better at my job when I had my three children because I spent time more productively. And I make time for myself—I exercise, read, and pray—to clear my mind and get a fresh perspective. Remember, a career should be a long-distance marathon, not a race to the finish.