#036: Climbing the Success Ladder in 7 Easy Steps

College degree in hand, the fresh-faced young graduates, begin the quest and the upward climb towards career success.

Ladder, success

I know, I’ve seen it play out in many college classes where I have had the opportunity to guest lecture, and in the thousands of job interviews, I conducted while at Procter & Gamble. Everyone wants success. After all, who goes to college, and works hard enough to graduate who then says, “Yeah, I want a life at the bottom!” “Yes, a double helping of mediocrity please!”

The trouble comes when after a few months or years these young people see what the real world is really like, and suddenly they start to ask questions. What does success look like? How will I know when I have achieved it? What if I never achieve this dream of success? What if I do, and I don’t like it?

If you are in that group of young people just starting out here are seven steps you can take to help ensure that your climb up the ladder is a success.

If you are a bit older, wiser, and more experienced read on because these are things you can, and should be helping those younger folks understand as you mentor them toward the ladder of success.

1) Define Your Personal Success

Perhaps the greatest reason for career disillusionment comes when someone climbs the ladder to success only to discover their ladder is on the wrong building. If you want to be successful you need to know where you are going. So before you begin the journey it makes sense to spend some time alone with God asking where He wants you to be. Where you are called? What are your passions? What gifts and talents has God given you that can be expressed in your work?

2) Differentiate Yourself

The last thing the corporate world needs is a bunch of clones who look and think alike. If you want to stand out in a crowd you need to differentiate yourself. Think of yourself as a brand. How would you market this brand? How would you position this brand? Figure out what is different about you, the way you think, the way you work, your specific expertise, your talents, etc. If you don’t know how you are different and manage your personal brand, no one else is liable to see how valuable you are.

3) Innovate

If you want to really establish yourself as valuable and worthy of more responsibility find ways to innovate. Look for ways to help the organization improve a process, lower costs, develop a new product, sell a new kind of customer. The list of potential ways to innovate in most organizations is endless.

4) Problem Solve

Someone who sees a problem, and brings it to my attention is valuable. Someone who also suggests an idea for how to solve the problem is invaluable—to me and to the organization. When someone brings a problem to me, my first question is almost always, “What do you think we should do to take care of this?”  People who see problems and can construct solutions have gone a long way to differentiating themselves in the organization (see point 2 above).

5) Volunteer

Volunteering to sit on a team for a special project is another way of adding value to the organization. It has the added benefit of exposing you to other executives, and in all probability, you will learn things that can be important to you in the future. One caveat—be selective in the kinds of activities that you volunteer for—stick to things that have a high likelihood of adding value to the organization.

6) Share Expertise

As you become knowledgeable in a given area be willing to share your expertise. Remember, your goal is to build up the organization. The extent that you can help train or otherwise improve others makes you more valuable to the organization.

7) Never Stop Learning

The rate of change is increasing exponentially. If you stop learning and improving you will be obsolete to most organizations in a matter of a few years. Take a class. Get an advanced degree. Get a certification. Read books and articles on a variety of related topics. Never stop learning or seeking ways to improve your skill sets.

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men. Colossians 3:23 (NASB)

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. How are you doing in terms of your own desire to achieve success? Are you on the ladder or have you become discouraged? Which of these steps do you consider most important?

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Category: Personal Development | Priorities

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