Why You Can’t Do It Alone
Everyone wants to “make it” in their career. We all want to get to that nebulous, dream-like place where we’ve reached our goals and got that seat at the table we’ve been working towards. However, I think a side effect of the American “hustle mindset” is that we place a huge emphasis on self-reliance as if we could simply work so hard that we achieve our goals through sheer force of will alone. But nobody works entirely in a vacuum, and it’s impossible to work in a silo and succeed on a team at the same time.
Collaboration, mentorship, and teamwork are essential to getting there.
Here’s how I see it.
BRUTE FORCE WON'T WORK
I think we’ve all tried to simply work harder in the face of a work challenge, as if we could do so well at our jobs that it wouldn’t matter what our networks or colleagues were like. Trying to work so efficiently while ignoring social aspects and networking is only likely to make you feel resentful in the long term. You’ll end up frustrated that your strong work performance still isn’t getting you the seat at the table.
The truth is that working hard to get ahead isn’t enough.
YOU NEED A COALITION
Take a look at the people who did get the promotion or the role that you might have wanted. What do they have that you don’t? If you’ve been going the solo route, keeping your head down and nailing your performance goals in a vacuum, then I’m guessing that the people who got the job weren’t doing better work than you. I would bet that they had a network of supporters who were advocating for them.
Nobody is an island, so for you to get ahead you need to find your supporters. Who are the people who will advocate for you when you’re not in the room? Who are the people who will throw your hat into the ring for you when you aren’t around to speak up?
And speaking of speaking up….
BE AN ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF
If you’re doing the work, if you’re gathering a network of support, then the last step is on you.
Are you communicating your value to other people in your organization? Are you letting your network of supporters know that you want to take that next-level position? Do the people who make these decisions know that you’re ready for it?
Be open and direct with your goals. Identify and communicate your value to the people around you. Your words have huge power, so don’t keep your goals to yourself. You can’t get to that seat at the table operating by yourself, so admit to people you trust why you want support, and where you’re hoping to go. Once you do that, you will not only see a shift in yourself, but you'll see a shift in your lifelong career trajectory.
Need help with your specific professional challenges? Book a one-on-one with me and let’s come up with a strategy for your specific situation together.