Today’s article isn’t going to be about starting from scratch and clawing your way to the top. It’s about you folks who come to see me, having reached what you thought was the highest you could (or wanted to) go and now wondering to yourselves, “Ok, now what?” This advice is for the manager, directors, and anyone who has accomplished a satisfactory level of material or professional success and now needs direction to go the rest of the way with meaning. Your meaning.
Releasing Judgements On What Success Looks Like
We don’t have to figure this out alone. This is the time to reach out and talk to others in order to get outside of our interpretations of ourselves, our jobs, and those around us so that we can get a fresh perspective. I’ve had managers ask themselves, Do I want to become CEO or move up just enough for my comfort level? If I don’t move all the way to the top, does that mean I’m not ambitious enough? What does that say about me?
Talking to someone, whether a friend, mentor, or coach can help us figure out those answers and the true context of these types of questions. Some people think career advancement means breaking through the glass ceiling, earning the highest possible salary, or having fame. None of these aspirations are bad; they’re just not the only things that define advancement.
Which is why I encourage my clients to release their judgements on themselves and what advancement looks like to them. Our ambitions are all different, and rightly so. To each his own, so to speak. After releasing judgments and expectations on career success and advancement, it’s time to get real and ask the important question, “What are we working for?” The attention then shifts from obstinately trying to achieve and make things happen (like promotions and raises) to dancing with and maximizing what we have now in order to move forward.
Recognizing And Understanding What Drives Our Need For Advancement
For example, people initially come to me and say things like, “I need to become VP of Sales so I can finally earn the salary I need so that I won’t worry about my family’s security.” By shifting the focus, we’re looking at a variety of aspects that are truly affecting this drive and the perceived need to advance. The true need and causal factor could instead be creating financial stability or security through better budgeting or financial planning, working for a company that offers satisfactory benefits covering expenses affecting take home pay, or is stable and doesn’t layoff employees without warning, or choosing to live in a location that’s more peaceful and safe.
Career advancement, in simple terms, is recognizing and meeting the personal and professional priorities that are most important to us. Sometimes, that requires us to make a step backward, forward, to the side, or even staying exactly where we are for now. It could mean earning less, earning more, or doing better with everything we have now until our priorities change.
The first step in approaching career advancement is understanding where you’re going and why. Key motivations, fears, goals, and priorities can help us get a clearer understanding of the picture and can act as a compass that will point us in the right career direction. Whether you’re going back, forward, or staying where you are, you are still full of potential no matter where you decide to go and that’s a fundamental fact.
Coach Leslie’s Questions To Ask:
1. What does success look like to me? Why?
2. What priorities drive my ambitions? Why?
3. What is the difference between what I (or others) think I should achieve versus what I am capable of achieving?
4. If I were never to move up in my career, how could I maximize what I have now?
5. What are my fears regarding success and achievement? What can they tell me about my next step?
Leslie Juvin-Acker is the contributing career and leadership expert at Malakye.com, a job board for the action sports and lifestyle industries based in Southern California.