I’ve known many people over the course of my 18 year career that have been frustrated, anxiety-ridden, or flat out angry that they haven’t secured that illustrious promotion. From direct reports that wanted me to prescriptively tell them how to get there, to peers that scowled as others ascended up the proverbial corporate ladder before their eyes. The pedestal, the recognition, and the honor within fingertip distance yet thousands of miles away. Face it. For the great majority of the population a promotion just doesn’t drop in your lap like a winning lottery ticket. For that matter, nor does success happen easily for independent business owners. Stop talking and do something about it. Realize these 7 P’s, get off your duff, and get that promotion.
Passion – a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.
Listen, morning person or not, if you’re not jumping out of bed and your mind isn’t racing trying to solve a problem, come up with the next big idea, or anticipating the day ahead then ditch the idea of a promotion. Better yet, go ahead and stop off in the morning at your local market to get your bottle of wine so you’ll have something to look forward to at the end of the day. Passion is easily detected and called out by others. Passion inspires others. Passion keeps our eyes on the prize. If it’s not there, stop what you’re doing and find something that does get you springing out of bed before the alarm clock goes off. If you are passionate about what you’re doing then in corporations your boss and others will take notice. In time you’ll discover that you don’t have to ask for new projects and promotions. They will come directly to you.
Perfection – the act of making something perfect or better: the act of perfecting something
Alright take a step back. No human being is perfect. I’m not. You’re not. Have a celebrity, political figure or some role model of choice in mind? Nope. They’re not either. The difference between someone who wants a promotion, a better life, a higher level whatever that may mean should be on a quest. Everyone has heard the adage that you shoot for the moon to hit the stars. This is what I’m talking about. In a corporate setting let’s pretend that you raised your hand to work on a big project. You may be scared or you may be highly confident. Doesn’t matter in either case. It’s an even playing field if you simply put the very best product forward that you can possibly deliver. Every. Single. Time. Push your limits. Do not settle for a half-baked idea or a half-complete deliverable. Strive for perfection. If you don’t, then you really don’t want success as badly as you think you do.
Personification – a person who has a lot of a particular quality and who is the perfect example of someone who has that quality
I learned from the Amy Cuddy Ted Talk. “…fake it until you become it.” I remember early in my career I truly didn’t have my mind set on one day becoming a Sr. Director or leading a team of 35 people. I’ve always been a very motivated and some say competitive person, but in my twenties I hadn’t found that motor that’s constantly going in my head like it is today. When you do start to assume more and more responsibility and perhaps more direct reports or in general more eyes on you, there can be times where you must push down the pressure and anxiety, and rise above it. I agree with Amy in that you fake it until you become it. Watch others in positions that one day you might like to assume. What qualities do they have that you should emulate. I’m not suggesting that you alter who you are or become someone that you’re not. I’m suggesting that you set your eyes on someone that you respect, you learn the traits that make them great, and you find a way to squelch all fear and rise above no matter the circumstances. Hey, and if you do need to stand up in front of room full of people and put on an acting hat or alter ego, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Praise – to say or write good things about (someone or something): to express approval of (someone or something)
I believe success at the core is derived from oneself, and therein one’s drive. I also believe that success comes from one usually combined with other individuals that come together for a common cause or belief system. In my corporate experience I’ve hired and been surrounded by wonderful, talented, and bright individuals that have attributed to my personal success. Success comes much easier when you’re around people that believe in supporting each other, and raising each other up. A successful person in my eyes is someone that openly praises others for their accomplishments. This is really more than just about how to get a promotion. You become a successful leader by knowing when to put your personal agenda down and focus on lifting others up. If you do that, success and potentially a promotion will come, as will your enrichment and enjoyment while on this earth.
Perpetuity – the state of continuing forever or for a very long time
Ok. Nothing is forever but death and taxes, unless you believe in reincarnation and well that’s a topic for another time. Focus on “the state of continuing…for a very long time.” I’ve been fortunate to have had a diverse career from recruiting, to operations, to mergers and acquisitions, to legal and compliance, to employer branding and so on. I believe that success within corporations comes with acquiring diverse skills. Don’t be a “one trick pony.” Branch out. Step out of your comfort zone and learn something new. Raise your hand and ask to be on a project or program where you have no expertise. I’ve loved those the most because 1) I had zero fear because I had no reference points to draw from, 2) because I had little to no experience I immersed myself in it and became the SME, and 3) I’m now able to draw from those diverse experiences and I have a well-rounded tool kit that I can leverage anywhere and anytime. This leads to career longevity. The net of it is to add more skills and experience, get a promotion, then repeat.
Persuasion – the act of causing people to do or believe something: the act or activity of persuading people
Whether you’re in a corporate setting or you’re an independent consultant you must learn the art of persuasion. You may believe in an idea with all of your heart, but if you can’t convince others in that value at least to some extent then it’s only an idea. I’ve learned that in the work environment, and in life, you come across many different personality styles. From expressives, to amiables, to drivers, and to our beloved analytics. (Can you tell which category still has me perplexed?) Within or outside of corporations when you get to a certain level it’s not just one personality style that you have to persuade to your way of thinking. The bigger the idea, and the wider the impact the more complex it can become to persuade. Watch others who succeed carefully. Listen to them intently. Read books that successful people attest to, and no, it’s not everything but I bet you walk away with a perspective that you didn’t have before. Persuasion begins first in my mind with understanding your audience, their motivations, how they perceive you, their present mood, and from there your strategy for presenting your point of view. It’s an art, and I’ve learned a lot from observing other leaders that make it look effortless.
Perseverance – the quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult
This quality in my mind is a testament to your level of passion and one of the most important qualities one can have. Another word is tenacity. Yet another is having heart. The drive inside that no matter what obstacle presents itself, no matter which person says “no, we’re not moving forward with that”, and no matter how far your limits are tested, you do not give up. Never give up. This is not to be confused with the idea that you must literally make yourself ill because success is all that’s important. Do not sacrifice your health for something worldly. Success and material things are fleeting. What I’m saying is that so long as your mind, body and spirit are grounded, and when you think that you cannot take any more, remember your passion. Remember what drives you. Remember that you can persevere so long as you set your mind to it. Know that you are far stronger than what others may give you credit for, and what others think about you is in many cases just an illusion in your mind. Find an outlet. Find something healthy that restores you and gives you balance. Then pick yourself up and keep going. You can do it, and you know it in your heart. Persevere, show some heart, and the promotion will come.
There will be twists and turns in your career. Change is inevitable, and something you should embrace. When a curve ball gets thrown your way, or when your world is literally turned upside down in the workplace and even outside, have faith. Roll with the failures and successes equally, and with grace. Good things will come. I wish you success on your path in life, and hoping your next promotion is around the corner. If you have a great story or thought, please share.
*Definitions referenced from Merriam Webster online