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Reaching Your Potential

Managing your career is your responsibility

To define success for yourself, you must take a step back and reassess your career. It starts with acknowledging that managing it is your responsibility.

Taking control requires you to take a fresh look at your behaviour in three areas:

  • Knowing yourself
  • Excelling at critical tasks
  • Demonstrating character and leadership

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Reaching Your Potential

Reaching Your Potential

https://hbr.org/2008/07/reaching-your-potential

hbr.org

5

Key Ideas

The questions to ask for success

Ambitious professionals often spend much time thinking about strategies that will enable them to reach greater levels of success. But, despite their accomplishments, they still lack a true sense of professional fulfillment and are often deeply frustrated with their careers.

The question to ask is not how to reach the top, but rather to take a personal look at how you define success, and then finding your path to get there.

Managing your career is your responsibility

To define success for yourself, you must take a step back and reassess your career. It starts with acknowledging that managing it is your responsibility.

Taking control requires you to take a fresh look at your behaviour in three areas:

  • Knowing yourself
  • Excelling at critical tasks
  • Demonstrating character and leadership

Knowing yourself and your skills

Taking responsibility for your career starts with an accurate assessment of your current skills.

  • Write down your three greatest strengths and your three most significant weaknesses. This requires reflection and seeking the views of people who won't mind telling you the truth. It takes a willingness to confront your weaknesses, fears, and blind spots.
  • Figure out what you genuinely enjoy doing. Then ask how well it matches what you currently do. Loving what you do gives you the strength to weather personal setbacks, overcome adversity, face and address your weaknesses, and work long hours required to reach your full potential.

Excelling at critical tasks

It isn't easy to succeed if you don't excel at the tasks that are central to your chosen field.

Many executives can't identify the three of four main activities that lead to success in their business. The ability to identify critical tasks helps you determine how to spend your time and develop your skills.

Demonstrating character and leadership

Character and leadership often separate the good performance from the great performance.

One measure of character is the degree to which you put the interests of your company and colleagues ahead of your own. Excellent leaders coach and mentor. They will make recommendations to benefit the company, even if the actions may not be in their own short-term interest. They are willing to speak up and realize they can hit a plateau by playing it safe.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Developing our strengths

Although we usually see our weaknesses as more changeable than our strengths, research shows that we should not focus on improving our weak parts, but to develop our strengths.

Identifying strengths

Try to see your strengths in relation to what energizes you. Something is a strength if: 

  • it makes you feel successful
  • you're drawn to it
  • it fully engages you
  • after doing that activity, you feel energized and fulfilled.
Ask the people around you

It's difficult for us to see our own strengths, but people around us (friends, coworkers, family members, mentors) will most likely see them clearly.

The goal is to identify things that you wouldn't have thought of on your own—or to find patterns.

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Understand Your Performance Evaluation

Find out if your performance evaluation is according to what you understand. Identify your goals and key performance indicators with your manager, and discuss accordingly.

Solve your Blind Spots

Ask for feedback, learn from it and adjust your performance (or behavior) according to the areas of improvement that you get to know from others.

Example: After giving a presentation, talk about what went well and ask if there is something that you could have done better.

Keep a Journal

Keeping a journal with a record of your learnings and feedback (areas of improvement) can keep us on the right path, and speed up our progress, and learning too.

Listing out 5 or 10 areas of improvement and tracking the progress in weekly or monthly reviews is a great way to develop your career.

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Skill 1 x Skill 2 x Skill 3 = Ability

If you lack a skill, you'll lack ability. If you have a zero anywhere in your equation, no amount of strengths will make up for it.

For instance, in Business, you will need Sales/Marketi...

The 80/20 approach vs. 10,000 hours rule
  • The 80/20 method: You can get 80 % proficiency in a subject in about 6 - 12 months.
  • The 10,000-hour rule: You can become an expert at something if you spend 10,000 hours of deliberate practice on it. 

To go from zero to 80% (good enough) requires a different approach than that needed to get from 80% - 99% (world-class). The last 20% also requires a different level of commitment. For instance, Stephen King spent 6 - 8 hours daily for ten years before he succeeded as a commercial writer.

The people at the top

The gains disproportionately accrue to people at the topStephen King probably sells more books than the rest of his category combined.

Being good at many things probably means that you are at 80% of your potential in all of them. It is not enough to stand out. 

Pick a very few things to tackle through the 10,000-hour rule and try and reach 99% of your potential in them.

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Specialize

Every field has its standards. Once you’ve got the basics down, reach for a lesser known—but still needed at your office—skill or competency.

Embrace conflict

Don’t create unnecessary conflict with your co-workers, but don’t run from it, either. See it as an opportunity to better understand someone you’ll be spending 40 hours a week around. 

Chances are, the other person will respond the same way. Goodwill is taken for granted less often than you might think.

Ask for help

At first, asking for help might sound like the opposite of creating your own opportunities. 

Opportunities are tied to personal relationships. Consider the Ben Franklin effect: By asking someone for a small favor, you endear them to yourself. The reason is that, when you help someone, your brain rationalizes your actions by assuming that you must like that person.

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Responses to the Peter Principle

"Women and minorities were exempted from the idea because they often weren’t promoted despite their competence and so didn’t get the chance to r...

A Reverse Peter Principle

Most managers address the bad boss problem by getting out of the subordinate role as quickly as possible and, by improving their own leadership skills, becoming a good boss.

Incompetence is Everywhere

Incompetence can also be seen on how subordinates deal with their bosses.

Workers feel anxious on how their bosses think about them. Should I correct my boss? Does he think of me as a competitor? Am I capable enough? Should I take an action?

Of course, everyone would think of those question before making a move. But a wise subordinate know can recognize that a boss does not know what he needs and the best thing to do is address their suggestions to the boss. Why? Because the boss is the one with the greater power to act.

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Well-being of adults
Well-being of adults
  • Studies show that most adults' happiness declines through their 30s and 40s, then hit a low in their early 50s.
  • After that, studies show that, in wealthier countries, most peop...
The memory of past success

Current achievements provide happiness, but the memory of past accomplishments do not appear to produce long-lasting happiness.


The waning of ability in people of high accomplishment is particularly difficult psychologically. Retired athletes struggle profoundly after their sports career ends. They are prone to depression, addiction, or suicide.

"Unhappy is he who depends on success to be happy. For such a person, the end of a successful career is the end of the line. His destiny is to die of bitterness or to search for more success in other careers and to go on living from success to success until he falls dead. In this case, there will not be life after success."

"Unhappy is he who depends on success to be happy. For such a person, the end of a successful career is the end of the line. His destiny is to die of bitterness or to search for more success in other careers and to go on living from success to success until he falls dead. In this case, there will not be life after success."

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Leadership Development

Leadership development is viewed as a current and future priority. Despite efforts to produce and nurture new leaders, only 7 percent of senior managers think that their companies develop global le...

Overlooking context

Many training initiatives assume that the same group of skills or leadership styles are suitable without considering the strategy or organizational culture of a company.

An excellent leader in one situation does not necessarily perform well in another. Focusing on context means equipping leaders with two or three competencies that will make a distinction to performance, rather than a list of leadership standards that is of no specific benefit.

Separate reflection from real work

Companies face a challenge when it comes to planning the program's curriculum.  Adults typically retain only 10 percent of what they hear in classroom lectures, but nearly two-thirds when they learn by doing. 

The answer seems straightforward: tie leadership development to real on-the-job projects. While it is not easy to create opportunities that simultaneously address high-priority needs, companies should strive to make every major business project a leadership-development opportunity as well.

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How to recognize your strengths

If you want to excel at anything, it’s not enough to fix your weaknesses. You also need to leverage your strengths.

If you want to recognize your strengths, you need other people to hold up a...

Choose your sources

Identify 10-20 people who know you well from a mix of personal and professional contacts, and ask them to write a story about a time when you were at your best. It is best if the sources are specific with concrete examples.

Spot patterns

Once the feedback arrives, look for the common themes that appear in multiple stories. Make a list of the themes, the key examples that support each theme, and what they suggest about your strengths.

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“The Freedom Finder”

The freedom finders like to spend on new experiences in the pursuit of “living life to the fullest.” 

Try using a budgeting app or immediately allocating a portion of...

“The Relationship Protector”

The relationship protector is often family-oriented. If they can support them emotionally and financially, it gives them their sense of achievement at having helped. 

A relationship protector is far less likely to make spontaneous investments when others depend on them, and their conservative approach to saving prepares them for retirement. 

“The Opportunity Seeker”

They’re always looking to expand their options, and every financial decision is carefully calculated to maximize growth. 

The opportunity seeker has to watch out for taking on more risk with business initiatives or investment opportunities. Spending time with a professional to seek a second opinion can help you assess whether the newest opportunity is the best one for you. 

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Our Image In A Professional Setting
Our Image In A Professional Setting

In a professional setting, our identity is largely governed by the perception of our peers, colleagues and bosses,

Our ‘image’ depends on how they measure the impact of our behaviour and ac...

Our Digital Image

People who want to hire us, invest in our companies or collaborate with us increasingly look at our digital footprints on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google and Twitter to ‘profile’ us.

As we go more and more online, the way we are perceived digitally, in our display pictures, zoom videos, emails and social media provides a mountain of data for humans, and machines to make judgements about our personal and professional attributes.

Working With The Algorithm

As companies and individuals access our digital avatars and make their judgements, we have the ability to curate them and tell them a story that we want them to hear.

We need to understand the algorithms that are formulated to identify signals and patterns, and ‘hack’ them to our advantage.

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