I’ve noticed this funny thing that happens in our life/career. I’ve never heard it pointed out, so I’m going to point it out because it seems to be a critical tipping point for people who are called to be leaders and who want to make an impact through their work.
Early-on, you take what you can get. You react. You don’t have much leverage, so you accept the best of the options presented to you.
Then, at some point into your journey, you gain enough experience, influence, knowledge, & self-awareness, that you start to know what you want – and be able to ask for it. And this is the critical pivot point when you need to shift modes.
The new mode is one of ownership, and it includes a change of mindset, actions, and communication:
- MINDSET: Stop telling yourself the old story that these are the options in front of me, or that these are the only things I’m qualified for, or that this is what I’ve always done so I’m stuck in that. Start telling yourself a new story, that anything is possible and you can figure out what you really want, that you are smart & resourceful, and that you can take steps toward your desires.
- ACTION: Intentionally decide your direction. Stop filling your time with reacting to what everyone else wants from you, and what everything else is putting in front of you. Start giving yourself time to take one small step at a time toward your dreams.
- COMMUNICATION: You communicate your desires and requests. You “proact” instead of “react”. Stop keeping it all inside or just saying the things you’re ‘supposed’ to say. Start saying what you actually care about. Start asking people to help you.
The other day, I got back from traveling for a couple weeks. I was unpacking and putting nicknacks back to their normal places. Before the trip, I had taken some keys off the clip that I carry in my pocket, because I didn’t need them while traveling. And while I was putting them back on their normal clip, I noticed something. There was a scan-card that I keep on my key-clip that’s been bothering me for months. It gets all twisted in my pocket and tangled with the other keys. It’s bulky. It’s annoying.
And in that moment, I realized, “Duh! Why don’t I just move it to my wallet!? Like all the other cards!?”… It never needed to be on my key-clip to begin with! But that’s where I put it initially, and it just became status quo.
For things to get better, I needed to intentionally shift. Something needed to call the status quo to my attention, and then I needed to be willing to change.
I needed to lead.
This is the career inflection point I’m talking about. Helping yourself so you can help others better. And it’s definitely not about taking from others. Just taking ownership – leading yourself. You can be giving, respectful, and humble, while also owning your career.
The problem is, no one tells us about this shift. No one prepares us for it or warns us that it’s coming. We just realize one day that we gained credibility and authority a long time ago, and have still been letting other’s own our direction for far too many years! Again, I’m not advocating for self-centered narcissism or overly aggressive career positioning. And I’m not even advocating for individualistic culture. I’m actually advocating for quite the opposite.
I’m advocating for your greatest impact in the world. Your greatest gift to others – which is you operating in the bullseye of your strengths and passions, which only happens when you take ownership. When you spend some time thinking about what you really want and who you’re meant to be. And when we, as community, share openly with each other and support each other’s pursuits.