Hard Work is Not Enough
There’s almost nothing more grating than professional frustration. We know we should have gotten that promotion, we know we were the best choice to have led that initiative, but it went to someone else. We know we deserved that accolade, but we didn’t get it. There are so much frustration and stress that builds up when you truly know you work hard enough to have advanced, but you’re stuck.
How can we get past this sense of frustration and into a place of growth?
GIVE YOURSELF SOME GRACE
Being frustrated is totally normal, so cut yourself some slack. If you’re working hard, it can be so incredibly disheartening to see an opportunity you’re ready for pass you by. But remember that this is a thing that sometimes happens in careers, and you’re not alone in your anxiety and frustration. Sit in that feeling for as long as you need to.
DON’T FOCUS ON THE “DOING”
When I started out in my career, I missed opportunities because I was keeping my head down, trying to brute force my way through the system by simply doing the best work. I thought that if I just worked hard and brought a lot of value, opportunities would come to me organically. But these days I recognize that I had totally neglected the “being” aspect of my job in favor of the “doing” aspect of it.
Advancement is about more than just work output, it’s about being a team member, making friends, networking, and getting to know the organization. You can’t successfully do any of those things if you’ve tunneled into the idea of working hard and then going home.
So what’s the solution to that kind of tunnel vision? Make friends!
Show up with authenticity as a team member, establish relationships, and develop a network of people who know both your work and yourself. You know who you are, so make connections with other people in your org and show the ways that you add value outside of pure production.
Successful workplace social connections demonstrate leadership, conflict resolution skills, and the ability to influence people to get a job done. These aren’t “soft” skills, these are real talents that need practice and effort the way you’d practice your technique at what you’re producing.
PAY ATTENTION TO BODY LANGUAGE
Another aspect of success that matters is the way you present yourself. This is true now even in an era of virtual workspaces. Are you the first person to sign off after a call? Is your camera always off? Are you participating in meetings?
Little signs like turning a camera on, smiling, and making the occasional comment or joke tell your team members that you’re paying attention, you’re listening, and you’re interested. That makes a huge difference if you’re looking to grow in your career because it communicates professionalism and focus.
Success is a multi-faceted achievement, so remember that you as a professional need to take a multi-strand approach to achieve it. Nurture your relationships, be a good team member, and show up for your colleagues to take that next step and get the seat at the table.
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