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“Progress lies not in enhancing what is,
but in advancing towards what will be” – Khalil Gibran
This time a year ago I published my first blog both here as The Career Diplomat and for the first time ever. I do have to be honest with you though, I started blogging because people gave me a long list of reasons why I should – it will improve the SEO on your website, it will profile you and build your brand with personality and credibility, it will help you find your business and brand angle. It was not because I had an overwhelming desire to write and it certainly wasn’t because I thought people would be interested in what I had to say.
In many ways the lessons learned have ultimately been about making progress. Slow and steady progress that form solid foundations and provide a platform for moving forward. It has also meant remaining focused and disciplined. There were many times I quite simply didn’t feel like writing, didn’t think I had too much to say or I found myself coming up with a list of excuses as to why everything else was more important. However I was always amazed at how each week the messages seemed to resonate with someone. Some weeks it has resonated with more and sometimes with less. The impact has never the less been felt and most appreciatively communicated.
Sometimes the key to making progress is simply recognizing the need to start and taking that very first step. When you start your journey you don’t always know where it is going to lead you but you hope for the best and you stick with it day in and day out – or in my case of blogging, week in and week out. It’s not always easy but you keep moving forward, believing that what you do adds value.
There are many parallels in the lessons I have learnt over the past year with how we approach our careers. One of the biggest has been learning to overcome the fear of being ‘out there loud and proud’ and in a sense needing to get past myself. It has meant taking risks, finding my voice, being brave and learning to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
When reflecting on the first year of life of The Career Diplomat there have been other lessons learned, all of which I believe so very aptly apply to the way in which we manage our careers:
- Consistent effort yields results: We all love the idea of an overnight success story but the reality is they simply don’t exist. No lasting results or careers have been built on a once off idea or achievement. They have taken consistent effort in planning, doing and evaluating.There are not shortcuts with our careers and the effort does not stop when we graduate. We need to be consistently investing in what it is that we do and the way we do it.
- Trust the process: Sometimes we just need to trust the process especially when it has provided obvious and tangible success for others around us. Often this will mean putting aside our own beliefs and taking that first initial step to test it out. It is always easier to tweak things on route rather than trying to come up with the ideal model (which is often nothing more than an idea with no proven benefits) before starting.
- Don’t underestimate or devalue your prior experiences: For many of us, what we do today is very different to what we trained for or what our first job was. Most of us though would recognize the strong foundations that our initial experiences gave us and how they have shaped the direction our careers have taken. Whilst I may no longer be standing in front of a classroom full of children as a teacher, many of the skills I learned strongly underpin what I do and are based on educating and equipping our future and current business leaders.
- Finding your voice is empowering: Just as success has a way of building success, confidence builds confidence. Learning how to communicate not just down to our immediate team but also up and out into our broader world both internally within out organisations and externally within our industry and business community is critical to future proofing our career success.
- Lose the perfectionist tag: Perfectionism is the equivalent of paralysis. It creates unwarranted stress, crushes creativity, prevents productivity and ultimately limits our worth.It often also prevents true connections with others around us being formed. Openness and honesty about our own journey and lessons learned allows for a greater level of authenticity and engagement with those around us.
- Overcome your fear of what others think: All too often we stand in the way of our success through fear. We keep ourselves small, keep our head down and aim to fly under the radar. In doing so though we limit our ability to influence, establish credibility and our personal growth.This is not to suggest that we should completely disregard the view of others or how we are perceived. Rather we need to stand firm in our beliefs, the confidence in our knowledge and skills and find the right way to communicate with those around us to positively influence up and out.
- Build connection: Establishing real and meaningful connection with those around you, be-it your team, your peers, business leaders and industry colleagues is essential to our success. Building authentic connection opens up the channels of knowledge, opportunity, engagement and influence that is all too often much further and wider than ever anticipated.
The Career Diplomat has largely been a success due to you the reader and the support and engagement offered to date and for this I say thank you!
As always I would love to hear your thoughts.
Margot – The Career Diplomat