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The Best Career Advice

The BEST career advice I have ever received was gifted to me 20 years ago.  At that time, I reported to a Divisional President, who said to me “To be successful, you need to be the expert in what you do.  You need to be the one that everyone thinks of, that everyone calls, when they have a question or need of information about that thing that you do.”

At that time, there wasn’t the same level of discussion that we have now about professional branding, but essentially that is what he was suggesting: get serious about establishing your brand in what it is that you have chosen to do professionally, do it well and be known for that thing that you do.  I took that advice very seriously back then and I still take it very seriously today.  It has been my anchor and has kept my career direction on track.

There is something else I would like to share with you, too.  A Psychologist by the name of Dr. Carol Dweck studied performance and attitude, and through this she concluded that attitude is the most important attribute in moving ahead in our careers – even more important than IQ.

Dr. Dweck states that there are two categories of attitudes: Fixed Mindset or Growth Mindset.  With Fixed Mindset, you believe you are who you are and you cannot change it.  When you are challenged with adversity, a person with a Fixed Mindset feels hopeless and overwhelmed.

A person with a Growth Mindset believes they can improve with effort. They OUTPERFORM those with a Fixed Mindset, even if they have a lower IQ. Growth Mindset people accept and even embrace challenges, and treat them as an opportunity where they can learn something.

I share these concepts with you because of this: throughout our careers we will all face adversity, unfairness, and yes, unfortunately, perhaps some form of discrimination.  If and when these challenges occur, Dr. Travis Bradberry, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, provides a few ideas that we can all do to move forward:

  1. Don’t Stay Helpless – Keep Going. Learn how to work around the issue.  There is always another way.  Remember this: Walt Disney was fired because he “lacked imagination and had no ideas.”  How absurd and how hard to imagine!  Steven Spielberg was rejected by USC’s Cinematic Arts School multiple times!  Can you believe it?

Oprah Winfrey was fired as a TV Anchor because she “was too emotionally invested in her stories.”  Think about the brands and the expertise that these people are known for.

  1. Be Passionate – find your sweet spot. Find the thing in your career that really drives you and stick to it. Be the best that you can be in that particular thing!
  2. Don’t complain when things don’t go your way – Focusing on the negatives produces more negativity. Complaining is the behavior of someone with a Fixed Mindset. A Growth Mindset looks for opportunity in everything.  Nothing productive is derived from complaining.

Opportunity abounds for us all!  Go find the companies where you believe you will find the least resistance to your pursuit of career development.  And if resistance occurs, just know that it is bound to happen!  It is part of the career development journey. We are all better for it because it forces us to be Growth Minded, and through being Growth Minded, we hone and improve at doing what we do.

I wish you all well as you develop your personal brand and become the best at what you do!  A wonderful and rewarding adventure is ahead.

Susan Howington is the CEO of Power Connections Career Services, an outplacement and Executive Coaching company.  PowerConnectionsInc.com.  She is a Career Transition and Career Management Coach, Speaker, author and Executive Coach.