Four Sentences to Propel Your Career Forward
I’ve had several conversations lately with people who are disrupted in their current workplace situations. Countless individuals are out of work due to the financial impacts on businesses and industries across the board these past few months. Friends and longtime colleagues have recently lost their jobs due to positions being eliminated through organizational restructuring. Others are realizing that they’re simply dissatisfied with their current work environment, and are not certain what’s next. Still others are making intentional investments into their own professional development to prepare themselves for their next career move.
Regardless of where you are in your career journey, let me offer four simple sentences (taken from our course, “Seven Sentences to Propel Your Career Forward”, available for virtual or in-person delivery for teams and conferences). These handful of sentences are prompts for daily interactions that will help ensure that you’re demonstrating the skills that are so prized in most organizations today: emotional intelligence, effective communication, and resilience.
1. “Communication is the deliverable until you deliver the deliverable.”
This is borrowed from my friend and colleague John Stenbeck in one of his recent sessions at PMI Central Iowa Chapter. The point of this simple sentence is that if you have committed to deliver or produce something, until that something has been delivered to the person you committed to, your communications - status updates, discussions about risks and their responses, issues and their resolutions, resources and their allocations - are the tangible deliverables that represent you, your commitment, your dedication to quality and timeliness, and ultimately that give that other person the sense of what the end deliverable will be like. It is therefore critical that we stop and invest the necessary time, energy, and excellence into communicating effectively.
2. We have not arrived.
Still within the vein of communication, this simple truth reminds us that no day is a good day to rest on our laurels or assume we’ve done enough with regards to communication. We need to remember that communication is hard for all of us and it will continue to require time, effort, and discipline. Remembering this does a couple of things. First and foremost, it reminds us to spend the time, effort, and discipline to make sure that our communications are effective, and to not get lazy or cavalier in our messaging. Second, it reminds us to give the other person a little grace, to acknowledge that effective communication is a journey and that they, too, are continuing to hone their skills.
3. Think forward!
This is a self-management technique that allows me to be aware of my emotions and manage them for a positive outcome. The goal is to think forward 30 seconds, 30 minutes, 30 days, 30 years, and ask the question - will this matter?
Think of how many times you’ve stubbed a toe or hit your funny bone, and in the moment, it hurt, but 30 seconds later the pain had subsided. If I wait a mere 30 seconds, will this still matter?
If the answer is yes, then look forward 30 days. A month from now, is this moment still going to matter?
Will this situation (where I flubbed my words in a meeting and lost my train of thought for a moment but recovered in enough time to finish strong) be material in a month, or will it be forgotten? Imagine a situation where I flubbed my words or lost my train of thought, but then had an inability to master my distress and just left the room (or the Zoom) distressed. Now that’s something that will be remembered. And if something has gotten under my skin in a given moment, and I asked myself if this would matter in 30 years, I have the ability to put this moment in perspective, to respond (not react) in a way that creates a long arc that is consistent with who I choose to be.
4. I spy something good.
Another self-management technique, this sentence is a way to playfully demand that I find a silver lining. It does not diminish or downplay the importance, magnitude, or gravity of the situation at hand, but it demands that I look, that I really seek a positive turn on this. One of the dimensions of emotional intelligence is a positive outlook, and we continue to find that, in a workplace, a positive outlook creates a greater sphere of influence. People enjoy being around positive people and those who are uplifting.
Did we just lose that big client we were trying to land? The good may be something that we can learn from it.
Did all of our plans for the entire spring just get cancelled by an unexpected pandemic? The good may be the extra time we got to spend building relationships with our household members.
Did the business disruption we’ve encountered from an economic crisis cause our operations to shift materially? The good may be the opportunity to invest our time and energy in an area we wouldn’t have developed if business had continued as usual.
Did I go to start my car only to discover a dead battery? The good may be the opportunity to practice self management as I pull out the jumper cables.
Certainly there are ramifications and impacts of all of these scenarios. If I focus on the negative, I may churn, spiral to the worst case scenario, and bring others down. But if I find at least one thing I can describe as good, I don’t have to allow myself or those around me to be without hope, and we can end on a bright note.
Regardless of whether you’re committed to your current organization or looking for your next employment home, these simple sentences will help you increase your influence and propel your career forward. And if you are in a moment of transition in your career, have you heard about our personal branding programs with Kay Arvidson, dedicated to helping you nail the interview and land that next right job for you? Check it out!