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Career Advice

4. The Lasting Impression Counts
5. Why does it take so long?


Don Andersson

Today's job market is tough - and commitment to working hard guarantees little! According to current studies, each of us, on average, will have ten or twelve different positions during our professional careers.

Between them we will cross many transition wastelands filled with frustration, high hopes and moments of white knuckle despair. We may see our cash reserves depleted. Panic may appear. We may be tempted to transfer from between-position challenges to those that come with the risk of starting our own business.

It's a dramatically different marketplace that has been imposed upon us. It's one which none of us requested and for which few of us are prepared. Loyalty between organization and individual has become but an artifact in our museum of memories. Job security is a thing of the past even though its mindset still imprisons many of us - preventing us from preparing for future success.

If we think the capabilities we have today are adequate preparation to overcome tomorrow's challenges - we had better think again! To make that assumption is folly. It's also folly to assume that working hard will guarantee success. Success will not just happen. It requires focus and commitment to a constant pursuit of personal and professional excellence. The instant these are no longer being pursued, the more vulnerable to failure we become.

To minimize that possibility and equip our self for our next level of potential an appropriate response to these three questions is critical.

1.      How do I define what I have to offer?

2.      How do I differentiate myself from others?

3.      How committed am I to retaining a competitive edge?

How do I define what I have to offer?

Listen to how others identify themselves. To what extent is it by the activities in which they are regularly involved? For how many is it by title or organizational affiliation? When someone asks us what we do, which response do we most instinctively use? How helpful is our response in attracting others who could actually use what we have to offer?

Individuals attempting to solve a pesky problem, overcome a major roadblock, get beyond a significant challenge or take their organization to a new level of success - intuitively listen for solutions - not for an archaeological description of our work experience. Unless they hear comments that clearly position us as a potential answer that will meet their need, we are not likely to grab their attention. When our comments do, individuals confronting challenges will want to know more. Since they also possess the greatest potential for providing us a new opportunity - it behooves us to be prepared.

How prepared are you to position yourself as capable of talking full advantage of your next opportunity?

How do I differentiate myself from others?

These candidates all sound the same," said Mike Jabrowski, division president of a consumer products corporation. "I can't tell them apart.

In these competitive times, when we are either trying to land a new position or hold on to a current one - it's important to equip our self for professional security. To make that transition requires a subtle and dramatic shift in how we think and position our self for others.

We've got to quit thinking of our self as a job or a title holder. Experience constantly teaches us neither assures success. Acting under the false assumption of job security provides no assurance.

We must, instead, think of our self as working in partnership with others and committed to helping them become successful. We've got to realize we are in the resource business and be committed to constantly developing skills we can use to help others succeed. We've got to recognize our success is dependent upon the success of others. Unless we are providing others a timely accessible and applicable product or service, there is no rationale for us to be compensated.

The clear articulation of our ability to assist others take advantage of upcoming opportunities will quickly differentiate us from those who point towards past accomplishments and, it will give us a competitive advantage.

At this moment, how clearly do you differentiate yourself from others?

How committed am I to honing my competitive edge?

Please note, this question has little to do with how willing we are to work hard. If we want to be successful, our willingness to heartily apply our self is critical. Many times we will experience our self careening, out of balance, on a treadmill with no apparent destination and making little genuine progress. This will keep us busy and we may notice a few things as we dig our rut deeper - but it does not keep us as a relevant resource.

The marketplace requires more. Pursuit of competitive excellence requires us to be constantly involved in our own research and development. Classical peak performers of stage, screen, concert platform and athletic field learned that lesson long years ago. Between spotlight moments they have noticed others preparing to take their place. They know that routines and skills of yesterday are not sufficient to keep them at peak performance levels.

To remain competitive they personally employ coaches or mentors to help them hone, stretch and add to the capabilities they bring. They do not simply show up on time each day and hope to win. They fully recognize that it is the discipline of constant skill development that maintains their competitive edge. Without it they quickly slide into irrelevance. How about you?

In today's job market where job security no longer exists, unless we take personal charge of our own skill development, we will not be able to step up to the next level of our potential. The capabilities we have today are not sufficient to help us take advantage of tomorrow's opportunities. Despite all our busyness, we've got to consistently hone our capabilities lest we become irrelevant. The choice is up to us.





"Reprinted from, a provider of human resources business leadership wisdom. All rights are reserved by the author."





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