My boss and I were on the highest floor of our building surrounded by the big whig’s offices, when the CEO walked by. He was a dashing guy with a name that would easily fit a square-jawed newscaster or a major league pitcher. And to steal from a poet,“he glittered when he walked.” Motioning in the direction of a competing company in the next building, my boss said, “You know, I used to work with him across the street. He was just a regular senior manager, like the rest of us. We all worked together. There was nothing special about him, [he dropped his voice almost to a whisper] and now he’s the CEO here.”
He emphasized his disbelief at the CEO’s fast rise by rolling his brown eyes a little as if to say, “WTH?”
Suddenly, I was on fire to know...
“What’s his secret? Because that’s how I want my career to unfurl!”
I knew plenty of smart, hard working cubicle farmers who’d put in five to 10 years and were going nowhere fast. I bet you do, too.
This CEO had clearly not opted for the “see what happens” strategy.
He didn't wait around for the boss to “take care” of him.
He’d figured out a better way and I wanted in on it.
I was exhilarated by the real life example the CEO represented. In a word, it was hope.
He’d figured something out. Our very own CEO working in this very building.
Peppering my boss with questions, exhilarated at the prospect getting intel that might help me divine our CEO’s fast-mover secrets, he gave up a little, but most I learned by asking around.
According to my boss, the CEO wasn’t crazy smart, exceptionally hardworking or even well-connected.
Here’s what I got: Three Ss
See. Set. Separate.
1. See yourself as a leader. He moved up because he didn’t wait for someone else to bestow a title on him.
Takeaway: Your boss is never going to pay you enough to live in their neighborhood.
That newly-minted CEO believed in himself, which inspired people to believe in him.
He didn’t wait for someone else to see him as “ready.”
He used that in combination with #2.
2. Set your own schedule and move up or move on according to your schedule, not theirs. T
So many talented people waste years waiting on someone else’s schedule.
Your growth rate may not align with your company’s ability to promote you.
Don’t take it personally. If you want more, move on.
Bodies in motion tend to stay in motion. “Wait and see” mode can go on too long, when that happens it dulls motivation, lowers confidence and erodes your optimism.
Keep moving and you’ll keep moving.
Takeaway: if there’s not an opening at the next level or there is and they fill it with someone else, don’t wait for “your turn.”
3. Don’t get emotionally attached. Separate.
It’s great for the company because emotional attachment enhances loyalty and work ethic.
But what’s in it for you?
Emotion is rarely rewarded at work. It can and often does lead to disappointment.
Ask yourself: would I change jobs if you knew you could move up?
If you’re going to make a move, it may as well be up.
Keep making your move.