While so much of this country’s economic turmoil is out of your control, there are things you can and should be doing to safeguard your career. Our five keys to success, dubbed A.D.A.P.T, will not only see you through these tough times but are the essential elements for success in any market, in any economy, today and always.
1. Accept Change.
Nothing in the world stays the same. Change is constant and success requires resiliency. You must be the kind of person who can accept change, who is resilient and who can help others transition. You have to be the person who rolls with the punches, and your employers have to know it.
This isn’t easy; change is a hard thing to accept. But you do not want to be that person who clings to the past, who hopes things will stay the same, who resists new ways of doing things. You have to be ready and willing to take on new challenges and assignments, to learn new skills. Those who are able to adapt and adjust to changing circumstances, however dramatic and disruptive, will fare well. The 21st century is going to be rocky. Adopt an attitude of acceptance and adaptation, or you’ll be left behind.
2. Develop a Network.
There’s a reason the Old Boys’ Network has fared so well over the years. It works. Members of the OBN know this essential truth: that opportunities come from other people. Merit, skill, talent and expertise are all essential components of success, but they only get you so far. What really creates opportunity is other people. And you meet other people by networking.
Networking is a critical component of success in any market, but today, when there is so much uncertainty, cultivating and deploying a well-developed network can be the difference between gainful employment and sitting midday in Starbucks trolling Monster.com.
You have to know people both in your field and out of it. Building an effective network requires time, patience and effort.
3. Advance Diversity.
We are in a global, highly competitive marketplace. You have to be able to tap into all kinds of diversity, and not just racial and ethnic diversity. You need to be able to incorporate and utilize diversity of thought and background.
The challenges of the 21st century require a wide range of voices. It’s going to take ideas and perspectives from all kinds of people to move forward. You must be accepting and inclusive. Seek to actively incorporate diversity. Diversity is good for business and good for your career. In short, keep your mind open. The time for ignoring someone because they are a woman/man/minority/young person/old person is over.
4. Play Well With Others.
We were admonished about this constantly in kindergarten. This is one of the great keys to success, and yet so many people can’t or won’t do it. Who knew ignoring this simple advice would be such a problem in the workplace?
The truth of this is so obvious, but it bears repeating ad naseum: play well with others. Collaboration is key for the 21st century. If you want to succeed you have to succeed with other people. You have to be able to pull people toward you, not push them away from you.
Now, the axiom is simple but being collaborative is difficult for a lot of people. It may require learning some new skills and tapping into your emotional intelligence, something many may not be familiar or comfortable with. Emotional intelligence is the ability to be receptive to other people, to listen to them, to engage them. It’s not always easy, but it’s essential. You have to be someone that others want to work with.
5. Take Responsibility.
You are in charge of your own career and your own life. Your actions, behaviors and choices are your responsibility. Once you take responsibility for yourself, you can take a good, critical look at your strengths and weaknesses. It is up to you to advance and hone your strengths and skills. Play them up. Accentuate them. Look at your weaknesses. Can they be changed? Change what you can, downplay the rest. Be responsible for yourself, your actions and your choices. Don’t blame others, pass the buck or wait for change. You career and future are your responsibility—make sure your choices, actions, and impact work towards bringing your goals into reality!
These steps are simple and straightforward. Any one of them will help you in your career and life. But taken together, they are a road map for success, in this climate and in the future.
Mary Abbajay and Karen Bedell, co-founders of Careerstone Group LLC, deliver leading edge professional and organizational development solutions to business and government. Careerstone Group’s consulting, facilitation, training, and coaching services help clients create effective, productive and positive workplaces where high-engagement meets high performance. They are committed to helping both the organization and the individual create lasting and sustainable success.