What serves your career better: self-promotion or praising others?
Don’t read on. Stop. Really answer that question first.
While the answer is both, this was not meant as a trick question. Your answer probably says something about what your career needs. If you answered self-promotion because that’s what you do, it may be that you will really benefit from bolstering your colleagues.
If you answered self-promotion because that’s what you aspire to, then you may in fact need more of that.
And of course, vice versa for promoting others.
Doing great work isn’t enough. You need to self-promote to cultivate advocates for you within your organization. But exclusively self-promoting (a common male malady) will create a reputation of self-centeredness and selfishness. Likewise, only talking about others (a common female malady) will gain you a reputation for being nice but not exceptional.
So the real question isn’t the theoretical one I posed above. The real question is the specific one for you. What will better serve your career: self-promotion or praising others?
I’d like to quit my job, but I don’t know if I can afford it.
I actually hear that quite a bit as a coach. Not just from clients, but also from people who idealize what my life as an entrepreneur might be like.
But I think we ask the wrong question. We ask, “Can I afford to do that?” Can I afford to quit my job and start a business, become a teacher, go back to school, take a year off, write the great American novel, change careers, take a demotion?
Can I afford to make less money?
That’s the wrong question. Yes you can afford it if you make lifestyle changes. No you can’t afford it if you don’t. There. No help.
The real question is, “What lifestyle changes would I have to make in order to accommodate this income change?”
And then, “Is the increase in job, personal, family, and life satisfaction worth the lifestyle change I would experience?”
I think (and research suggests) we tend to overvalue the lifestyle – gadgets, vacations, restaurants, stuff – and undervalue our day-to-day experience in situations we don’t love.
Who are the people most important to you and your future?
How would you rate those relationships on a scale of 1-10?
What would a 10 look like for each one?
What are you doing to get to 10?
One of my clients loves to say, “Your network is your net worth.”
He’s right. I talk to my coachees about this all the time. Which relationships are advocates? Which ones need bolstering? What new ones do you wish to create?
If you aren’t actively managing your relationships, you aren’t building the capital of future career success.
Do this: Write down the names of the 25 people who are most important to your future success. They could be people you already know and have great relationships with. They could be people who don’t know who you are (yet). For each one put them in one of the following categories:
- Critic – speaks or takes actions that willfully or unintentionally harm you.
- Observer – is neutral, neither acting for or against you and having no strong opinion of you.
- Fan – likes you and your work.
- Advocate – speaks up on your behalf, recommending you for assignments, raises and promotions.
A critic moves to observer when you reach out a helping hand and build commonality between you.
An observer becomes a fan when you show high quality work.
And a fan turns to an advocate when you ask – Can you help me get X?
So what’s your plan for moving the 25 people on your list to become the advocates your career needs?
Your pipeline is the list of people who you are in regular contact with who can help you achieve your biggest goals.
If you are selling, that pipeline is potential customers. If not, then your pipeline is your network. It’s the people who can influence your job or help you make the jump to the next level in your career.
The first challenge here is one of quantity, pure and simple. If you have enough people in your pipeline, then whenever you need it, at least a few of them should be ready to act – to buy from you or to help you move to a new role.
If you have a ton of people in your pipeline and you are still struggling, it’s time to confront the second challenge – quality. Look at each person on that list. Can they really help you achieve your biggest goals? Or is it just easier to keep in touch with them than it is to go out and find a new person to add to your pipeline?
On yesterday’s post about sustainability I received an interesting comment I thought worthy of a new post. Essentially, the comment raised the idea that certain life goals were mutually unsustainable.
In her case a perfect diet and a perfect marriage conflict when her husband either encourages her to have dessert (perfect marriage, imperfect diet) or discourages the sweets (perfect diet, imperfect marriage).
Being a perfect parent often conflicts with having the perfect career. A perfect retirement fund limits the perfect home and vacations one can take in youth and middle age.
More and more we have been teaching each successive generation that they can do anything, be anything. More and more we set the expectation of the possibility of a perfect life.
But even the best life involves tradeoffs. Perfection is an unfair objective to offer or expect.
Know that to fully pursue your passion for music, you won’t get to all those novels your friends said you should read.
Cooking homemade meals means less time taking the dog for those long walks you love.
Every act is a tradeoff. There is no perfect life. But there are good and bad trades.
What are the best and worst trades you’ve made?