I am lucky enough to be under the direction of a group of passionate, ambitious individuals who want nothing more than to see their business – and its people – excel.
I strongly believe that the first step to being successful in a business begins with having the same values and goals as those who lead. During the first few minutes of my interview, my director said: “This is not a nine to five job.” And I thought, “good.” Because that wasn’t what I wanted.
For me, work is not, and never has been, sitting in front of a computer and counting down the hours until you get to go home. In order to be good at something – really good at it – you have to believe in it. You have to believe that every single minute you spend in front of that desk is valuable and rewarding and worthwhile. It’s highly unlikely that you’re going to want to be really good at your job if you hate it.
So where do you start?
1. Don’t let negativity drag you down
One of my directors lives by a saying: “don’t let toxic people rent space in your head. Raise the rent and get them out of there.”
That person who’s complaining about having to do overtime? Ignore them. What’s so terrible about having a few extra hours to help you keep on top of your workload and a few extra dollars in your pay check the next month?
Negativity is contagious and if you let the trivial gripes and grumbles of others get to you, it can have a damaging effect on the way you feel about work – and, ultimately, yourself.
2. Surround yourself with positive people
I have at least four close colleagues across the span of my company that I know I can always count on for a positive attitude and a helpful idea.
How can you tell how those people are? They are the people who leave you feeling energised and motivated after a conversation – not worried and overwhelmed. Even at the busiest, most demanding times, those people will offer a helping hand or a fresh approach to a problem. Strive to be one of those people and they will gravitate towards you.
Do your best to keep these colleagues close – they are invaluable to your company and to you. They are going places, and you might just get to go with them if you try hard enough.
3. Be your own brand
We are the Twitter generation. But don’t let the deluge of articles about “lazy millennials” tell you otherwise – this is not a bad thing. Stop tweeting about your weekend regrets and start filling your feed with industry news, interesting articles, and occasional updates on what your company’s been doing.
On social media, we are what we post – whether we like it or not. You don’t have to censor yourself (too much) and you definitely don’t have to lose your personality – you just have to use it properly. Be engaging, responsive, and genuine; you’ll soon build a loyal following of like-minded people who are interested in communicating with you and hearing about what you do.
If you’re serious about doing this, you can use TwitWipe to erase your Twitter history (don’t let the questionable name put you off). Once you’ve done that, get yourself set up on Klout or Buffer, where you can curate relevant content and schedule your tweets to post at times when they are most likely to be noticed.
This doesn’t stop with social media, though. In “real life” conversations, be a positive ambassador for your company and yourself and you’ll soon begin to see the benefits.
4. Persevere – even when you feel like giving up
Have you ever woken up and felt like crawling back until the covers for the day? I have.
Even if you love your job, there are days every now and then when, for whatever reason, you just don’t want to drag yourself out of bed. Make a cup of coffee, get it together, and walk into the office with a smile on your face.
Being reliable and consistent helps to build trust with your colleagues and lets them know that they can count on you. With any luck, they’ll return the favour!
5. Learn how and when to say, “no”
If you are proactive in taking on additional work or are often the first employee to step forward to lead a project, others will begin to see you as the “go-to” person when they’re looking for extra help with something. This is an achievement – it means that people view you as helpful, capable, and supportive.
But there will be times when a colleague asks for your assistance with something and you’ll know that while you’d like to jump in and save the day, you already have too much on your plate.
It’s instinctive to want to help in such situations but agreeing to do so can often have an adverse effect – it isn’t worth taking time away from more pressing matters to your detriment if you can let someone else with more workload flexibility step in and be the hero.
In these circumstances, it’s best to first ask how urgent the task in question is. Can it wait until next week? If so, great! If not, now is the time to:
- Explain that you don’t feel you have sufficient time to dedicate to completing the task with the care and effort it deserves
- Discuss the opportunity with a trustworthy, willing colleague and suggest that he/she gets involved instead
Saying “no,” when you should will eliminate a lot of unnecessary stress and your colleagues will respect you for having the responsibility and foresight to delegate when you need to.
When we were children, our parents and teachers told us that we could be anything we wanted to be. As we grow older, we begin to realise that this isn’t entirely true – but it isn’t far off the mark.
You can be amazing – or more amazing than you already are – at what you do. It takes a lot of commitment, a lot of hard work and, if you’re anything like me, countless late-night Starbucks sessions: but you can.
And if all else fails – I’m pretty sure you can find an article on the Internet somewhere that will tell you how to be really good at being a human burrito.