Opportunities are around us all the time, but it’s a rare individual that truly seizes them.
Mostly, we’ll spend too long fussing over making a decision (not to be confused with the real and proper work of weighing things up of course), then fussing over whether it’s for us and fussing over whether we’re for it.
There’s a power that comes from developing the courage to seize opportunities.
I read an excellent article this week, You Need To Practice Being Your Future Self
In it, Peter Bregman argues that we’re so focussed on what’s going on for us right now, that we fail to consider what and who we might need to be in a future role.
Instead of being so busy with the day job, he advises that “you need to spend time on the future even when there are more important things to do in the present.”
This of course presents us with a potential conflict – how do we do the ‘day job’ while preparing for the future one? Bregman writes “Sometimes you need to be irresponsible with your current challenges in order to make real progress on your future self…you may not end up with an empty inbox…you may not please everyone.”
He goes on, “The wildly important stuff that never gets done because there’s not time or it’s not urgent or it’s too hard or risky or terrifying…” These are things we should work on if we want to move forward.
Years ago, I sat opposite a client as she reflected how a colleague booked himself into the Head of Department’s diary regularly. She didn’t know what they talked about, but he was on first name terms with their Senior Leadership Team, positioning himself for a senior role – and she wasn’t. Another academic client pondered how her colleague managed to find time to take on high profile, visible projects when she was bogged down by the necessities of the day job. He was talking at conferences, building connections – and she wasn’t.
Sitting back and watching someone else walk off with the prize hurts.
The price we pay is resentment, discouragement and deflation. The price of ‘yes mode’ can be high – maybe try doing it differently? Try Disabling Yes Mode in a way that will help you feel in control.
Cultivating the courage to put yourself and your career first can seem daunting, selfish and un-team-like behaviour. The truth is, we’ll never be noticed from the comfort zone of the day job, and understanding what we need to have, be and do to move our careers onwards and upwards is non-negotiable; success follows.
It’s a habit you can get into, as Charlotte Sweeney shared with me in my second book, Strategies for Being Visible, “Throughout my career I’ve thought about two things. As soon as I’ve got one job, I’ve been focussed on doing it brilliantly – and then, what’s my next job?”
If the word irresponsible grates, how about considering your priorities – and making yourself and your own career top of the list? It’s not your job to please everyone and an empty email inbox is a displacement activity for the challenge and fear of stepping up and out. Don’t get too bogged down in the weeds that you lose sight of the green shoots around you.
It’s safe for you to have opportunities and for others not to have them.
We need hold a vision of our future and be courageous in what we say yes and what we say no to. There will be some wriggle room for us all if we really want to find it, so find it.
If you need some help cultivating your courage, this post On Confidence, may help.
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