Career Success: Don?t Be Caught With Your Pants Down

Do you want to know how to jump-start your professional career? Or, are you already in the trenches trying to be a high performer and wanting to make a quantum lead to the next stage of your career? Or, because of downsizings or reorganizations, you feel like you are paddling faster and faster but seem to be getting nowhere? Find out how to monitor your changing environment so you won't be caught with your pants down.

Visualize your career environment as one huge jigsaw puzzle. It consists of your present job, your company, your industry, your profession, your regional, national and world economy. You may only be aware of certain pieces of the gigantic puzzle. However, those other pieces are also extremely important. They can stop you in your career success tracks or enable you to take advantage of new career opportunities. The following three tactics will help you monitor your changing environment to prevent you from be caught with your pants down.

Act As an Information Magnet.
Don't be a modern-day Rip Van Winkle. Don't wake up to a world you no longer understand and feel comfortable in. Are you so tied up in everyday life that you fail to see the shifts in your workplace and in the marketplace?

Keep your intuitive antennae up and eyes open. Establish an early-warning system. Look for signals everywhere. Tap into the grapevine and be in the know about as much as possible. Become an information junkie. Do you regularly watch CNN, documentaries, and TV magazine programs? Do you regularly scan the Wall Street Journal, or Fortune, or Forbes, or Business Week for the big picture news? Are you hooked onto online or the Internet?

As pace of change accelerates, careers will be affected by what's happening inside and outside your workplace. Don't find yourself in an information vacuum. Stay in tune with the changing workplace. Realize that information is power and it is absolutely necessary for career survival.

Scan the Changing Landscape.
Imagine your career as steering a ship down an unexplored river. To ensure safe passage, you must be attentive to ever-evolving conditions. These are the powerful trends occurring in society, business, and technology that will be impacting your professional life and career. How do you begin spotting these trends?

You must become an amateur futurist. Take the information you've gathered and begin speculating about what you're seeing, hearing, or reading. What's happening in your company, or the marketplace or the political and legislative arenas? What seems to be just a fad and what seems to be on going occurrence? Get out of your narrow tunnel and start seeing the big picture.

Then start thinking strategically. Ask yourself: What are the immediate and the long range influence of these trends? How can this information directly or indirectly affect me, my industry or my profession? How are changes that I see today likely affect my job security tomorrow? Are there any actions I should be taking right now? What can I start doing today to prepare for the next year, or three years, or five years? Discover the trends and what the future holds.

Prospect for Opportunities.
Change generates hazards as well as gigantic opportunities. The work world rewards those who catch on to what's happening and then position themselves to take advantage of change. To that end, think of yourself as a surfer on the ocean forever looking for a new wave or opportunity to ride. How do you find those new waves?

Have a nose for opportunity. For example, the flattening of organizations is really a two-edged sword. It can reduce the chance for promotion, but it also can create opportunities for you to take on responsibilities that you may not have been able to when positions were more narrowly defined. In times of rapid change, there are always critical things that may fall through the crack. So start looking for some problem areas. Do you have a way to fix it? Change constantly creates potential ways for you to shine, show your stuff, and leverage your career.

Discover the golden nuggets of change. Be on the look out for career opportunity seeds all over your work environment. Then decide which are ripe for picking. Do not merely muddle through workplace change as a casualty of its twists and turns. Rather be ready for change, spot the opportunities, and make maximum use of them.

Marcia Zidle, the 'people smarts' coach, works with business leaders to quickly solve their people management headaches so they can concentrate on their #1 job to grow and increase profits. She offers free help through Leadership Briefing, a weekly e-newsletter with practical tips on leadership style, employee motivation, recruitment and retention and relationship management. Subscribe by going to and get the bonus report "61 Leadership Time Savers and Life Savers". Marcia is the author of the What Really Works Handbooks resources for managers on the front line and the Power-by-the-Hour programs fast, convenient, real life, affordable courses for leadership and staff development. She is available for media interviews, conference presentations and panel discussions on the hottest issues affecting the workplace today. Contact Marcia at 800-971-7619.

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