So you have a colleague, friend, significant other, or child who wants to be a big success. They want to rise to the top of their work environment – to be recognized as someone who is going someplace. What advice would you have for them as to what it will take to excel?
Get an education. Not bad, and sometimes even helpful – more so if you encourage them to obtain a degree that has practical utility in the real world, i.e., develops skills that will be of real value to a prospective employer.
Know your rights, and make sure your employer treats you fairly – stand up for yourself! Ummm – not so good. This should be reduced to the following: many employers are good, and actually, most are very good if you make a genuine and significant contribution to the success of the enterprise. If you are not valuable, then there is no reason for an employer to be concerned about your satisfaction or ongoing plans to work there. In the odd instance you are valuable and yet being treated poorly, life really is short, so I suggest you fire the employer.
We often make the path to big-time success in the workplace more complicated than it need be. There are two simple pieces of advice that MindSet believes will assure success in the vast majority of workplaces.
1) Always, and under any and all circumstances, under-promise and over-perform. This is such a simple piece of advice and so easy to understand – but so hard to relentlessly practice. In MindSet training sessions, we explain why there is such a natural psychological pull for us to violate this rule; but for now, just sear it into your brain that if you want great success, you must get this behavioral pattern mastered.
2) You can carefully memorize your new job description or study the employee handbook every night before you nod off, but there is a much more effective and simple way to excel. Find out what your supervisor expects from you, and then exceed those expectations every day. And you need not play mind reader – your supervisor is almost always just a few steps, keystrokes, or a phone call away! You can check in with him or her every week to literally ask if there is anything more you could do to be helpful or better exceed his or her expectations.
No doubt, some reading this will see this as hopelessly old school – the boss is always right, blah blah. Actually, I am aware that the boss is not always right – but I am also aware that the boss is the boss. This advice is not given for the purpose of achieving some abstract sense of justice or maximizing profitability for the company. No – this advice is strictly given to help your colleague, friend, child, or significant other achieve a high degree of personal success within most any work setting. It is a good example of common sense still working in the real world.
End note: As the son of a school administrator and a former school psychologist myself, this is one of the reasons I cringe when I see parents who aggressively defend their wonderful little angel when they feel their child has been mistreated by a teacher, coach, or administrator. First, 90% of the time the parent is flat-out wrong (failing to maintain what MindSet calls an adequate Region of Doubt) due to the likely possibility that their child just may not have relayed the full (or 100% accurate) story. Yet even if there is a legitimate concern to be discussed with a school staff member, parents would usually do their child a service to not make their child aware of those discussions. As far as the child is concerned, unless the authority figure’s misconduct was egregious or illegal, the best parents will supportively remind their son or daughter that the teacher/coach/principal is to be respected and their directions followed. Such parenting sets a pattern for later workplace and life success.