Success starts with being awesome at what you do

I recently wrote an article with tips for getting noticed at work. Not long after I’d posted it, I had a great conversation with my good mate Ben Lee about success and what it takes to achieve your goals (he should know – Ben runs four businesses and is Brisbane’s top personal trainer). After our chat I realised that the article I posted makes a big assumption. One that potentially undermines every piece of advice therein.

It assumes that everyone trying to get ahead in their career is awesome at what they do. As we all know, this is just not the case. Look around your office or workplace any day of the week and you’ll find lazy, ignorant underachievers left, right and centre. The major implication here is that for them, the advice I gave in the article is useless in the long term.

Unless you’re awesome at what you do, all the tips and tricks for success in the world aren’t going to help you achieve anything.

So, before you go trying any of the strategies in the article (or from any other source for that matter), have a good hard look in the mirror and ask yourself: am I awesome at what I do? Am I improving, learning, developing? Do I have goals? Am I focussed on them? If you can answer most of these in the affirmative, congratulations. Make a commitment to consistent, hard-work and you can start thinking about office optics. If not, it’s time to do something about it.

Success doesn’t just happen. You have to work for it. Apathy will get you nowhere and kissing ass will only take you so far.

If you’re not awesome at what you do, someday you will be found out, probably humiliated and likely hit a ceiling that will put a halt on your career. There is some good news, though. As long as you’re willing to put in the work, it’s not too late. You can still become awesome and if you’ve already hit that ceiling I mentioned you’re in luck again because it’s breakable.

Here’s where to start:

  • Stop looking for the silver bullet: the journey to success starts at the bottom of a staircase, not an escalator. It’s not called climbing the corporate ladder for nothing. There is no magic potion for success. Insert as many (misquoted) clichés here as you like, bottom line is you need to start working harder!
  • Know what you want: it’s cool to be all like ‘I let my moral compass be my guide in a career that makes a difference’ but you still need goals. There is no career without them. Stop being a floater. Write down your goals and get at them!
  • Know your business, organisation and your job inside out: research your ass off until you’re an expert and you know all you can about your industry/sector!
  • Seek out and grab with two hands every learning opportunity you can: create your own personal and professional development plan. Show your boss if she’s interested and supportive. Make it happen even if work doesn’t support you!
  • Become T-shaped: if you’re a generalist, become an expert at something; if you’re an expert at something, start learning about everything else!
  • Surround yourself with people who are successful: success breeds success!
  • Don’t make your career your only measure of success: your personal life, health, fitness, hobbies and intellectual pursuits are important and achieving outside of work will make you better at work. Don’t just aim for a successful career, aim for a successful and happy life!

Without hard work and being great at what you do, a successful career will be nothing more than a pipe dream.

When you’re old and looking back on your life, what do you want to see? A loser who looked for the cheap, easy way to the top and didn’t reach their potential; or a winner who worked their ass off to achieve what they were destined to?

I know which one I choose.

Forward this article on to anyone who could use a little (or a big) kick up the bum to get them moving.


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