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The best piece of career advice no-one will ever give you

The best piece of career advice no-one will ever give you

It seems there are a lot of rules on the road to career success.

Work harder than everyone else.

Make life sacrifices.

Suit up.

Network like a demon.

Be an extrovert.

Don’t be too wild with your ideas.

Avoid ‘different’ clothing.

Fix your weaknesses.

We are taught that ignoring these rules is a career no no, which will send us straight to the back of the queue when it comes to career progression and promotion.

It’s much safer to fit the mould.

But what if you want work to feel like play and believe in a work/life balance?

What if wearing a corporate uniform of sorts just doesn’t feel like you?

What if networking and being the loudest person in the room makes your introverted self want to vomit?

What if you’re an ideas machine or someone whose wardrobe is an expression of your creative self?

What if you’re much more interested in putting your strengths to work than directing your energy towards the things you aren’t naturally good at?

The truth is that if adhering to rules like these means we compromise who we really are – contorting ourselves to fit someone else’s idea of what’s right – we’re never going to perform to the best of our ability or be at the top of our game.

From my years of coaching, what’s clear is that those who are most successful and happy in their work approach their career on their own terms – whatever that means for them.

They do what feels good, whether that’s wearing a casual jacket and chinos or fuchsia pink in a sea of black suits; challenging the status quo with a leftfield creative idea or finishing at 5.30pm to pursue their passion for ballet, painting or athletics.

When we embrace who we really are at work we exude personal confidence, which studies suggest has more influence on career success than talent, hard work or education. 

It makes us more likely to be admired, listened to and have more sway over group decisions.

So ask yourself, are you are playing to a script for success that is dictated by other people? 

If you are, consider taking off that metaphorical suit to bring your true and best self to work. 

It will feel a lot more like fun and your career trajectory will likely thank you for it.

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Want to set up your own business?

Want to set up your own business?

Recruit a brain trust

I work with many people looking to set up their own business in a heartfelt bid for career fulfilment.

They share similar characteristics and strengths, including being strategic, creative and smart.

Their natural vision and entrepreneurial mind-set mean they are clear on their direction and are motivated to get cracking.

But one thing typically holds them back and hinders progress: they are one person trying to do it all.

What tends to happen is a cycle that looks something like this:

  1. Have a great idea that combines their strengths, experience and passion!
  2. Do some research and map out the idea from a big picture perspective
  3. Break the idea down into smaller goals and actions
  4. Start activating different pieces with passion
  5. Some things don’t work
  6. Go back to the drawing board, do some more research and tweak the idea or approach
  7. Start activating more pieces with passion
  8. Some things don’t work
  9. Go back to the drawing board, do some more research and tweak the idea or approach

And cue a familiar cycle that keeps the pace of momentum pretty slow. And frustrating.

In many cases, this sequence causes people to question their whole idea and start thinking about six other things they should perhaps be pursuing instead.

Focus, clarity and motivation disappear and their amazing idea never gets off the ground.

Many people get stuck in this place and never leave it.

An antidote to this one-man-band trap is recruiting an informal board. Or as one of my clients beautifully terms it, a ‘Brain Trust’.

This means actively seeking the support of individuals, who offer complementary skills and connections to help you fast forward your business idea.

They might help you with ideas for product development or marketing; link you up with personal contacts for funding; spread the word to their network about your services; financially back your idea; provide cheer-leading support when the going gets tough; or act as a general sounding board as you continue to develop your idea.

Whatever the support, it means you’ve suddenly got a small army of people who are using their skills and assets to help you make progress. You are no longer a lone ranger.

Plus it’s a win win.

While you have the input from the best in the business – as identified by you, your informal board feel great because they’ve been especially chosen and get to contribute using their natural talents – which is easy and fun.

So if you’re thinking about or working towards setting up your own business, consider setting up your own brain trust and watch your progress go into overdrive.

P.S. If you’d like help building your own business, check out my BUILD programme.

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