When I was growing up, I remember hearing some of my friends’ parents say, “Remember what name you wear.” They told their children this because the families had good reputations and they didn’t want something the children did to tarnish or ruin the families’ good names.
Do you know what you want to be doing five years from now?
Are you happy with your position in life? Many people will make rash decisions based on how they feel today. They don’t make decisions based on where they want to be in the future.
I’ve seen so many co-workers decide to leave public accounting because they are tired of the hours and travel. They don’t think about the opportunities that lie ahead if they stick with it. If they would stay another five years, they would have so much more flexibility in their careers and would not be doing the same things they are doing today.
But, the future doesn’t matter. Only today matters … to them.
You started saving for retirement with your first big job by enrolling in the 401(k) plan. You started saving for your child’s college education when she was born. You saved for your first car and probably for a down payment on your first home.
But, you won’t look five years into the future to see where you want to be in your career.
As Will Smith’s character says in Hitch, “You can’t really know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.” If you can specifically determine what you want your life to look like in five years, you can make it happen.
Write down your five-year goal. That goal should include more than just a job title. It should include responsibilities, your employer, your ability to travel, influential people you will know, etc. Be as specific as possible.
Then, work backwards from the achievement of your five-year goal. Be specific with each step. Each step should be small. Big steps take longer to achieve and you may get frustrated. You want to always feel as if you are succeeding.
During this process, you may also want to talk with others who have already achieved the same goal. They can guide you as to what it takes to reach the goal and whether your goal is even reasonable within five years.
Once you write down the specific steps to reach your five-year goal, ask someone to be an accountability partner. A spouse is sometimes a good idea but it depends on his/her personality. You want someone who will push and challenge you, not someone who is concerned about upsetting you.
Give that person a copy of your goals so he/she can remind you consistently of what you need to be doing. Enter reminders in your calendar. Set any type or reminder or alarm you can to always keep you focused on the goal.
Now, take the first step. Do it and move to step two. Always be moving. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. If you don’t take the first step, you will never reach your destination.
Be intentional. Be happy. Enjoy success.
What do Abraham Lincoln, John Wooden and Jack Welch (these are affiliate links; I will receive a commission if you purchase through these links but they have no extra cost to you) all have in common? They were leaders of the highest caliber and at the highest levels of their careers.
How did they become such great leaders? Did people decide to follow them from the moment they were born?
Of course not.
Did they reach the highest level of their careers without gaining experience at lower levels?
Of course not.
Were they respected solely because of the titles they held in their organizations?
Of course not.
They earned the respect of those they lead and of their peers because of the principles for which they stood, the manner in which they upheld their values and the hard work they did.
You don’t have to be the President of the United States of America, a legendary college basketball coach or corporate CEO to be respected. How do you gain the kind of respect these men garnered?
If you commit to doing the following three things, you can be respected too:
1. Understand respect is earned, not given – Some people who are put into leadership positions believe their subordinates will automatically respect them because of their leadership titles. This can be from any leadership position: shift-line manager in a factory, head teller at a bank, mid-level manager in an office and even a parent.
While a leadership position should be respected innately, the person in the position should not. For example, I will always respect the position of United States President but I cannot respect the person serving that role if he is immoral or unethical.
I recently wrote a post stating that being a jerk is not in your job description. While being a jerk is not in your job description, being worthy of respect should be. You have to earn respect.
You will earn respect if you do certain things and refrain from others. Here is a short list of some things you should and should not do if you want to earn respect:
Care about others more than yourself
Admit when you’re wrong or have made a mistake
Say “I’m sorry”
Always put forth maximum effort, i.e., work hard
Give constructive criticism
Ask for constructive criticism
Help others succeed
Give credit when it is due
Praise others for the good they have done
Know what you don’t know
Think you’re all that
Ask someone to do something you are not willing to do
Be overly sarcastic
Throw someone under the bus (ever)
Talk about someone behind his/her back (ever)
Take credit for something you didn’t do (ever)
Talk down to a subordinate or peer (ever)
Be “big brother”
Act like you know everything
2. Stay true to your values – Everyone has a set of values by which they live. I have a certain set of values which will likely differ from yours. No matter what value set you have, never stray from it.
Granted, values can change. When they change, admit it and live by the new values. Your values have likely changed at some point in your life so you should understand.
If you are caught doing something that is contrary to the values you publicly portray, your reputation will be tarnished. You can see this every day if you watch the news. Martha Stewart is a great business example. And besides, people love to gossip. You don’t want to be the subject of their gossip.
Don’t let that happen to you. If you cannot be certain you will act in a particular way given any number of criteria, don’t state publicly (or implicitly) that you will. People can forgive a moment of weakness but not a lack of moral character.
3. Be yourself – If you live according to a false persona and act one way in public and another in private, it will be found out. I want to be led by an authentic person, not by someone who is acting a certain way because a public relations firm thinks it is best. You feel the same way.
If you are from the South, be from the South. Keep your accent. If you were raised in a military family, be rigid and orderly. Don’t change.
Some people may not like you. That’s okay. Not everyone will like you. You can still be respected.
You Don’t Need to Be a Leader to Earn Respect
The items above are applicable to anyone. You don’t need to have a formal leadership position to earn respect or be respected.
You should hope to be respected by your peers and your leaders. I hope I am. I have worked and continue to work hard to earn their respect.
If you are in an entry-level position, you should want to be respected. You will not be promoted unless you earn respect. If you are in a leadership position, you should want more respect. The more respect each of us earns, the more influence we can have on others.
In business, or life, what you do does not matter. Instead, others’ perceptions of you matter. How people perceive you is what will make or break your career. Perception is reality.
Example 1 – Not being a hard worker
You work the most hours of anyone at your level within your company. You leave the office at 5 pm but you stay up working until 2 am every night.
Your boss or co-workers only see what you do until you leave in the evening. They don’t know the sacrifices you make once you leave the office. Therefore, you’re perceived as one who does not work much or hard. Their perception is reality.
Example 2 – Not being punctual
Your office has a policy that you can come and go as you please as long as you get your work done timely. You are not a morning person so you don’t start your day until about 9:30 each morning. Your co-workers who leave at 5 each evening don’t know that you stay until 8. Instead, they think you’re working two fewer hours than they are. They think you just can’t make it to work on time. Their perception is reality.
Example 3 – Taking advantage of the expense reimbursement policy
Part of your job responsibility is to bring in business so you frequently take clients and prospects to lunch. Your co-workers without sales responsibilities think you are taking advantage of the company by getting your lunches paid for by the company. Their perception is reality.
Example 4 – Not wanting to be promoted
Your goal in your career is to rise as high within your company as possible. You even want to be CEO one day. But, you have never told anyone of your aspirations to climb the corporate ladder.
You keep to yourself and just get your work done. You think your hard work will get noticed and the promotions will come. Instead, you’re perceived as not being social and just wanting to do the “grunt” work. Perception is reality.
There are so many more examples of how you can be perceived based on your actions or words. Sure, it’s not fair that you’re perceived like this. Everyone should know better. Unfortunately, that’s how it is because perception is reality.
What can you do to change those misperceptions? The most important thing you can do is to tell people of your intentions. Let’s look at each example above:
Example 1 – You are a hard worker
Ask your boss if he knows that you work from home each night? If it surprises him, explain to him why you do it. Maybe you have young kids at home you want to spend time with each evening so you leave at 5 and then start working again when they go to bed. If you work for a good boss, he will understand and encourage you to continue to do so.
But what about your co-workers who you think gripe about you behind your back? I’d ask your boss first about whether he knows if anyone has an issue with your work schedule. Also, ask how your accomplishments compare with your peers. If you are outperforming them because of the extra hours you work, don’t worry about what they think. Continue plugging away.
Example 2 – You are punctual
I’ve witnessed this situation in the past. One of my peers worked by this schedule and people did gripe about it. But, I knew how much he actually worked and told people that he stayed late every night. My co-worker, on several occasions, also came into the office well before normal starting time. People didn’t see that either.
The bottom line is to know how your boss perceives you. Most bosses are not naive. They understand what happens in the office and how much people work. If your boss is okay with it, it’s okay to keep that schedule.
Example 3 – Make the sale
Quality sales matter. If you can make a sale, your boss will not mind you taking people to lunch every day. However, if the company doesn’t realize any financial benefit from the expenses you incur, you will be asked to change. Building relationships with clients and prospects will keep the company in business.
Example 4 – Let it be known
I was guilty of this in the past. I really wanted to be promoted (and still do) but didn’t ever talk to my boss about it. I worked hard. I worked a lot. I worked weekends. But, the promotions didn’t come any faster than anyone else. (Read about the three steps to be promoted.)
Then, I talked to my boss about it. He told me what I needed to do to be promoted. You have to be forthright about wanting to be promoted. If you need additional challenges, speak up.
I remember after my first year on the job I got pretty bored working on the same type of engagement every day. It just didn’t challenge me anymore. So, I told my boss. Of course, I still had to work on some of those engagements but I was also given more challenging tasks.
You shouldn’t worry about what others think about you, unless they could have an impact on your career. You should be focused on how you are perceived by your boss. Your boss’ perceptions are what matter for your career because his/her perception is reality. Have open communication. Ask what you need to do and then do it.
Share your experiences in the comments below about how perceptions have played a role in your career.
Are you disappointed because you were passed over for a promotion? Are you rising as quickly up the proverbial corporate ladder as you think you should? No? Do you want to know how to get promoted?
Through my experiences, I’ve learned three inherent truths about how to get promoted.
First – You must perform according to your job description. In some cases, you may be required to exceed expectations. And, believe it or not, it takes a lot more than just doing a good job for you to get promoted.
Second – You need to express your desires to be promoted and ask how to get promoted.
Third – Promotions usually come after you think they should.
Let’s dig a little deeper into the truths of how to get promoted.
Until a couple of years ago, I thought all the positive things I did would get noticed by my superiors and I would be promoted immediately. I didn’t need to know how to get promoted. It would just happen.
From kindergarten through my senior year of college, I was used to being a standout in the classroom. I thought that would translate to the office. It helped but it wasn’t the only factor.
Work hard and be efficient and effective at accomplishing your given job responsibilities. You’re being paid to do it. Do the absolute best you can and exceed expectations as frequently as possible. Without accomplishing this first, you don’t have a chance at rising through the ranks.
I often use the saying, “Use your words” when trying to understand what my two-year old daughter wants. The same can be used for us. If you want something, tell someone about it. Don’t just expect your boss to read your mind about wanting to know how to get promoted.
Leaving a meeting with my boss a couple of years ago, I told him that I almost said to the partners in that meeting that I hoped to be sitting in one of their seats one day. I said this sarcastically but I really would like to be in such a position in the future. He told me I should have said that because they would have been impressed by my desire.
That was a lesson for me to learn. I cannot rely on other people to know what I want. It is up to me to make my desires known.
Promotions are not awarded nonchalantly. They must be earned. And, the candidate needs to have the appropriate level of maturity and experience for the new position.
In my company, and I assume in most others, employees will perform the majority of a position’s responsibilities before being promoted to that position. I’ve experienced it. As I look back on my career, I can see the wisdom in that practice.
It is disappointing to not be promoted when you think you should be. If you’re as close as you think you are to being promoted, you will likely be promoted the next time around. At that point, you’ll truly be ready for it.
Be patient. Your time will come if you do your job well and you express your interest and if you ask how to get promoted.
How has your career advanced? Were you promoted slower than you wanted? What did you do to overcome those frustrations? Leave a comment below and let others know so they can learn from your experiences.
Below are some other articles about how to get promoted that you might enjoy: