The one trait you need to succeed

gritcover2Do you believe that you need talent to be successful?

You’re wrong.

You need Grit.

Grit” is a trait studied by Angela Duckworth, a psychologist and the bestselling author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

Leaving a high-paying job in consulting, she began teaching math to seventh graders in a New York public school where she realized that IQ wasn’t the only thing separating the successful students from those who struggled. To learn more, she joined University of Pennsylvania as a graduate student and began studying people in different types of environments to find common factors that determine success.

“In all those very different contexts, one characteristic emerged as a significant predictor of success. And it wasn’t social intelligence. It wasn’t good looks, physical health, and it wasn’t IQ. It was grit.”

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Luckily, you don’t have to be born with grit. It can be developed. Studies of world class achievers show they develop grit in four stages:

Interest – This first stage happens when you start to fall in love with an activity and it becomes a passion that drives you to keep getting better at it. Therefore, you should avoid taking on roles or careers in fields that you are not in love with or at least heavily interested in. You must like what you do and be interested in becoming the best at it. Otherwise it will be impossible to become successful.

Practice – The second stage is a period of prolonged skill development and dedicated practice. This is the hardest part because it requires you to keep doing the same thing over and over and over. In the book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve world-class mastery in a field. The Beatles would practice eight hours a day seven days a week and had played over 1,200 concerts before they shot to fame. Kobe Bryant, a world class athlete, would practice shooting from one spot until he made 400 baskets.

Same goes for nerds like Bill Gates. The Gates family lived near the University of Washington. As a teenager, Gates fed his programming addiction by sneaking out of his parents’ home after bedtime to use the University’s computer and had racked up over 10,000 hours of programming experience before he founded Microsoft.

Beyond-the-self purpose –  A “beyond-the-self” sense of purpose gives you a much deeper motivation and can sustain you over a much longer period. This means that you should invest your emotions, your time and your energy into your passion because of reasons other than just being rich or becoming famous or even becoming the CEO of your company. Picking a career just to make money will rarely result in success. Seek a higher purpose, even if it is as simple as being the best at what you do.

Hope – Gritty people are resilient. They have a growth mindset, which provides them with the ability to bounce back and see each obstacle as a chance for improvement. When you lose hope, you fall into a fixed mind set of “things aren’t going to change.” As you look for more and more evidence that nothing is going to change, you’ll prove yourself right because you have stopped trying.

A growth mindset is the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed, that it can change with your effort. When people read and learn about the brain and how it changes and grows in response to challenge, they’re much more likely to persevere when they fail, because they don’t believe that failure is a permanent condition.

willing-to-fail

In the end, success comes down to perseverance. The deep desire to complete what you started. To follow through on your commitments. To keep going even if you fail the first time or the first few times. To keep pushing for your ideas even if they get rejected initially. To keep executing on those ideas though you’re up against a bunch of naysayers or road blockers.

Develop grit. That’s how you keep getting promoted. That’s how you get to the top.

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Be a squeaky wheel…(with class)

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They say that the squeaky wheel gets greased. The message of this old idiom is that he who complains long enough will get what he wants.

In the context of an office environment, however, no one likes a complainer. At the office, complainer usually eats lunch alone. Or worst, he’s the first on the list of people to get the pink slips.

But that doesn’t mean that this old idiom should be ignored. There is some real wisdom in it. Said another way, it shows that  the most noticeable person is the one most likely to get the most attention. The key is in how someone is noticeable.

A corporate climber is someone who uses this idiom to her advantage. She communicates with her managers and other stakeholders. She asks questions often and seeks constant feedback.

When in a role, especially a new role or taking up a new project, it’s crucial that you demand (tactfully) of your superiors what is expected of you and maintain an ongoing communication with them with regards to issues you are running into.

Ask for feedback. Ask for counseling and coaching.

The quiet, new person who keeps to himself and whose work a manager has to correct is more likely to be shunned than the new person who constantly asks (smart) questions and stays on her radar.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

For example, once I had two new staff under me. One drove me absolutely fucking insane, question after question and second guessing everything, even my decisions. But as he worked he would keep me apprised of his situation and in the loop. He would seek help and clarification as soon as he encountered an obstacle or an issue. He made sure I reviewed his drafts and working files and that I helped him hone his deliverable to my expectations. In the end, his work was very good. It was always exactly what I wanted.

The other staff was quiet and solitary. I’d assign him a task, with an hourly deadline, and he’d go off on his own. No communication. I thought he had everything taken care of. Come deadline he had some half-assed work ready for me. I was not happy. Not only did he misinterpret my instructions and provided the wrong deliverable, I had to sit with him and spend hours helping him fix his mistakes. It felt like he just wanted someone to hand-hold him through the work. Eventually, I learned to rely on him less and to check up on him more frequently when I assigned him a task or project.

Moral is…make your own personal presence known among your bosses. Show you are active. Even if you are missing things and the numbers don’t add up, asking questions early and often avoids a lot of headache later. Being proactive  just shows that even though you need assistance, you are eager to learn and grow. Be the employee you would want if you owned the company.

Demand feedback.

Five Ways to Fast-Track Your Promotion

This article, by former GE CEO Jack Welch originally appeared on LinkedIn

By Jack and Suzy Welch

Who isn’t impatient to get ahead? According to a recent national workforce survey conducted by IPSOS, a global market research firm, and the Jack Welch Management Institute, 31 percent of American professionals said they have been passed over for a promotion they felt they deserved and 43 percent thought about quitting their jobs in the past year, due to frustrations at work and limited opportunity for advancement.

And while promotions can sometimes be limited by the growth of your organization and other factors outside of your control, there are always certain things you can do (and make an effort not to do) to accelerate yours.

Obviously, the only surefire way to move up in the organization is to consistently deliver great results and deliver them the right way. But here are some additional tips to think about that have the power to help you to stand apart and get in the running – fast – so that the next promotion that comes around doesn’t pass you by:

Over-Deliver.

What does that mean?  Whenever your boss gives you an assignment or asks you to figure something out, he or she usually already has a pretty good idea of what the answer is. For example, if your manager wants you to confirm that the market share of one of the division’s products is 35% and you go out and do the work only to come back with “Yes, you’re right, it is 35%”, that isn’t over-delivering. It’s just doing what you were assigned.

But guess what? School is the only place where you get an A if you do exactly what you’re asked.  Work isn’t like that.  To over-deliver, you’ve got to redefine the assignment, make it bigger, and open your boss’s eyes to a larger horizon.

Don’t underestimate the incredible power of positive surprises. If you come back with something that’s truly eye-opening and presents a new opportunity, your superiors are going to remember it for a long, long time. In the example above, for instance, if you came back defining your market share within a larger market definition that no one had thought about before – that spells opportunity… And nothing will serve your promotion ambitions better than making your boss look smarter to his or her leadership.

Don’t Make Your Boss Play Defense.

No matter where you work, your boss has a certain wonderful thing called political capital in the organization that he or she has earned over the years by getting results and being a good team player. The last thing he or she wants to do is use it up on you – especially if you want a promotion. If someone has to come to your defense because you’ve done something stupid or careless — you’ve upset the client or you’ve been late a few times, you are using up political capital. If you ask your coworkers to cover for you, you are using up political capital.  And if your boss finds him or herself forced to say things like “Please cut Mary a break because she’s really a good employee; she’s just having some problems with her dog, okay?”, you’re definitely using up political capital.

That usually works precisely one time and then it gets very old.  So, pick that time very wisely, once every five years.  ­

Love Everyone.

When you’re gunning for a promotion, you often start being very, very loving to the people above you – it’s just what happens.  And as you spend all of your time tap dancing for the powers that be, you might tend to forget the people who work alongside you and below you and start to ignore them.  That’s ugly. Nobody likes it.  In fact, even the people in power probably take note and are grossed out by this behavior.

Now, a little bit of boss-handling is always par for the game.  “How was your vacation?”, “Understand your son scored two touchdowns on Saturday… Nice going.” Fine — everyone does that sort of thing.  But you have to go beyond kissing up and also show some love to your coworkers and people who are subordinate to you. Get to know them as human beings. Find what you authentically like about each one of them — not just in your immediate group but in the whole organization.  And yes, it really has to come from a place of authenticity — this is not something that can be phony because people can sense that right away. Yuck.

Just remember the path to your promotion is paved with big love, that’s real, and in every direction.

Volunteer for Tough Duty.

Every once in a while, a boss comes along with an assignment that nobody wants. A risky new initiative. A new job that involves working overnight.  The customer with the bad personality that everyone avoids representing. These kinds of risky or unpleasant assignments that no one wants are actually a great opportunity for you to raise your hand and really get out of the pile. You may not succeed at them, but you will get points just for putting yourself out there and saying, “I’ll take the risk. I’ll do it.”

Take those tough assignments just to get yourself on the radar — even if you have to hold your nose while you do it.  It could end up being the best career move you ever make.

Seek Mentors… Everywhere.

Look, everybody wants a mentor.  Under the right circumstances, having a mentor can be great.  Just remember one thing.  You’re limiting yourself greatly if you think you have to look to a single person as your mentor. Everyone’s a mentor, everyone.  Every person you know knows something that you don’t know — alongside you, up, down, and sideways. People in other companies. People you read about in the newspaper… Everyone.

So if your definition of mentoring is too narrow, redefine it to make everyone your mentor and soak up all the insights, ideas and best practices that live all around you. You’ll be so much smarter for it.

Ultimately, these five “extras” are no substitute for delivering solid results, all the time. But if you wake up every day thinking about how to supercharge your performance with them, it will be very tough for your organization to ignore you for long.

5 HABITS OF PEOPLE WHO ALWAYS GET PROMOTED

This article originally appeared in FastCompany

5 HABITS OF PEOPLE WHO ALWAYS GET PROMOTED

SOME EMPLOYEES JUST SEEM TO BE AHEAD OF THE CURVE AND REAP THE REWARDS. HERE’S HOW TO BE THAT PERSON.

Most of us have had that coworker that seemed to be a perfect fit for the company or team. She always had the right answers. He seemed to know what needed to be done before the company leaders even did. And that “sixth sense” and insight was rewarded with responsibility, autonomy, accolades, and advancement.

“When employees bring those qualities, they’re perceived as leaders in the company, no matter what position they hold,” says Katharine Halpin, CEO and founding principal of The Halpin Companies, Inc., a leadership consultancy in Phoenix, Arizona. “They take ownership for problem solving and dissolving conflict. They naturally have this sort of alignment with the company.”

The good news is that becoming a super-employee isn’t some rarified secret. It’s a combination of skill set and mindset that you can begin to develop for yourself by focusing on these five key habits.

1. THEY CHOOSE THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT FOR THEIR TALENTS

It’s hard to be a super-employee if the company’s needs are very different from your abilities, talents, and values, Halpin says. In addition, a 2015 research report by the Cicero Group found that one of the most important factors in employees consistently producing great work was recognition. Thirty-seven percent of respondents said that being recognized by a manager or by the company was the most important driver in great work. So, choosing to work where your work is valued is important.

2. THEY PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT THEIR BOSS VALUES

Super-employees are studying the preferences and goals of their direct supervisors, their supervisors’ supervisors, and the company at large, says Gayle Lantz, founder of WorkMatters, Inc., a leadership consultancy in Birmingham, Alabama. They may be striving to participate in projects and meetings that aren’t part of their jobs, but which give them access and information to what company leaders think and need.

“They’re doing things above and beyond what other employees are doing, and they’re showing interest. They’re motivated and showing they want to learn what it’s like to be at the top,” she says.

3. THEY FOCUS ON BOTH DAILY RESPONSIBILITIES AND BIG-PICTURE THINKING

Exceptional performers are able to maintain dual focus on both the task at hand, as well as how it fits into the bigger picture, Lantz says. If they don’t understand something, they get the information they need to make its importance clearer.

When you start looking at everyday tasks from both perspectives and truly understand what you need to do and why it needs to be done, you become more strategic and begin to anticipate what needs to be done—sometimes before others know what needs to be done, she says. In addition, you’re better able to prioritize so that your activities and energy are focused where they are of most value to the company, Halpin adds.

4. THEY MAKE SPACE FOR BIGGER THINKING

Keeping some open time in the day, such as scheduling time between meetings and blocks of time for simply thinking or working on projects that require concentration, can also supercharge performance, Halpin says. Super-employees are vigilant about scheduling everything from daily meetings to big projects to ensure that they have the best possible chance at a successful outcome.

“Sometimes, it’s just very practical actions—getting to places early, not rushing from meeting to meeting if you can help it—to give yourself time to do what you need to do. That may be thinking about the purpose of your next meeting, or getting a snack or drink so you’re not hungry or thirsty,” she says. Being harried, distracted, hungry, or otherwise uncomfortable because you’re too rushed is not going to allow you to do your best work and be most insightful, she adds.

5. THEY LIKE THEIR COLLEAGUES

High performers are in tune with the people around them and can sense when they need something. They possess soft skills like empathy and are able to relate well to other people because they take the effort to try to understand them, Lantz says.

“A large part of any business is helping people work together well. Super-employees make that a top priority. They look at relationships as something that’s critical to success in the business—not just doing the work,” she says.

Why loving what you do is good for your career

follow-your-dreams

We’re all unique. Not only in our genetic make-up but also in our emotional and psychological make-up. Our uniqueness attracts us to certain subjects in school, pushes us to pursue an interest or hobby and drives our career choices.

For some, a career choice comes naturally. It was a calling. Or a gut feeling that led them down the path they pursued. To others, it was their destiny to become a doctor, lawyer, actor or politician or social worker.

No matter what you call it, those who encourage their inner voice to express itself and let it guide their life end up loving what they do. They also tend to become wildly wealthy or famous or both. But usually, these people don’t actively seek fame and fortune.

They just want to spend their life doing what they love. Because they love what they do, they naturally want to become better. So they work harder. Hard work leads to small incremental improvements. They get excited and aim for more. They become obsessive in their desire for constant improvement. They don’t care about the hard work or the long hours. They grind away. Lack of sleep is not an obstacle. Lack of a social life or a “work-life” balance goes completely unnoticed. But they do notice the success that comes from each tiny, incremental improvement. Their careers become a very important source of pleasure and fulfillment in life. They are happy.

Financial success, fame and power are usually just side products of their love.

It seems so simple. When you follow your unique inner voice, not only do you get to do what you love, you also achieve success.

So why aren’t we all doing this? Why aren’t we all successful? Why do a majority of us get stuck doing jobs we don’t necessarily like that much?

It’s because we reject our inner voice.

From the moment we’re born, there’s an immense external pressure to ignore that inner voice. We are shaped by the influences of others. Whether it’s from parents who seek to direct their kids into a lucrative and comfortable career path or the unconscious peer pressure that makes you feel embarrassed to be different. Subconsciously these influences drown out our inner voice and superimpose their own.

So we choose a career that “sounds right.”

If it’s a career that doesn’t really suit you, invariably you’re going to lose interest and feelings of dissatisfaction will grow. You may not even realize that the cause of your frustration is the misalignment between your career path and your inner voice. Instead, unlike someone who loves what they do, you will subconsciously begin seeking pleasure and fulfillment from outside your work. You’ll focus on “work-life balance” and place importance on your social life.

In the end, your career will suffer.

As you become increasingly less engaged in your career, you lose focus. The quality of your work suffers. The frustration will creep into your interactions with co-workers. Eventually, you fail to pay attention to the evolving changes in the field. You fall behind and your skill-sets become obsolete. Instead of being the go-to person in your company, you just become dead weight.

No company wants dead weight.

Companies need employees that are engaged. They reward innovators in their field and those who actively lead improvements to the company as a whole. Unfortunately, it’s hard to become an innovator and leader of something you don’t love.

So what do you do?

You change!

Dig deep and find that inner voice. Evaluate your career choices and make changes. It’s not going to be easy. It may even mean taking a lower position or lower pay in a new career path. Don’t worry about that. It will pay off in the long run.

If you love what you do, success will come naturally.

What your “Out-Of-Office” message says about you…

Out-Of-Office
Your personality heavily influences the path your life will take. The difference between someone who’s a failure vs. someone stuck in mediocrity vs. someone wildly successful is very deeply rooted in your character traits and habits. The differences are very subtle at an individual level but add up quickly.

Recently saw this posted on by Ruslan Kogan on Linkedin which provides a perfect example of the subtle difference between a high performer and a mediocre one.

You can tell a lot about a person’s work ethic from how they word their Out Of Office email template when they go on leave. You can also tell if it’s a person that’s driven by and gets inner fulfillment from achieving an end goal or simply by fulfilling their minimum contractual obligations.

Out Of Office template for someone who always does the bare minimum:

I am out of the office until 20th January and will not be checking my emails during this time. Please email john@smith.com.

Out Of Office template for a high achiever:

I am out of the office until 20th January and will have limited access to emails so please expect a slightly delayed response. You can also contact john@smith.comwhile I’m away or if any matter is urgent, you can call my cell on 0412 345 678.

So keep an eye on what Out Of Office template your team mates choose to use. It’s a good guide.

Which one are you?

Read the entire article “Don’t hire Hotmail users & other tips to save your company culture

Master the annual performance review

Welcome to the new year!

While you’re still recovering from that amazing holiday vacation and desperately trying to hold onto your new year’s resolution, your company wants you to reflect on the past year and tell them all about how you think you did.

It’s called the annual performance review. It’s the report card your company uses to evaluate you. Some companies take this process really seriously. Some don’t.

You, however, should take the performance review process very seriously. It’s the one opportunity the company gives you to actively toot your horn and not feel guilty about it. And the best part is that it becomes part of company records. All your glory (or lack thereof) is read, analyzed and stored for future reference and use.

So, here’s how to ace your review.

Avoid surprises |

If you’re waiting for the year end annual review to find out what your manager thinks of you, you’re screwed. You should know exactly what’s going to be on your review before you walk into your one-on-one. The only way to do this is to get periodic feedback sessions with your boss. Most bosses won’t have the time to set this up so make it your job. One of the first things you should do when starting a new job or starting a new year at the same job is to ask if you can set up periodic informal feedback sessions.

Then follow through.

Set meetings every month or at least once a quarter. It’s your job to know when your boss is unhappy with you and to fix it. Solicit “real time feedback” after a meeting or a pitch and ask for feedback directly both good and bad. It’s fresh and allows you to improve immediately. More importantly, it shows you care

Don’t sit around till the end to find out what you could have done. Too little. Too Late.

Market the hell out of your successes |

Influence your boss’s impression of you by taking action well ahead of review time. Throughout the year, you keep track of the accomplishments you’ve had … both small and large. Talk to your boss about every single one as soon as possible without appearing to be bragging. If possible, thank her for her support or acknowledge how you couldn’t do it without her help.

Then, during the annual review, make sure you line these successes up against your goals. And if you did it right, then your boss will remember all those accomplishments you guys talked about.

Brevity is key |

Seriously, don’t write a book. Be nice to your boss and try to keep your goals and commentary to no more than 500 – 700 characters. In a twitter driven world where 140 characters can move worlds, there’s nothing you can’t say in a few sentences. Use bullet points that get straight to the point. Abbreviation when used appropriately is fine. Do not use language you use to text your friends. No “LOL” or “IDK” or “WTF”

 Use numbers & well defined metrics |

Follow up your successes with quantifiable metrics. You increased sales by 13%. You decreased cost by $180K. You increased productivity by x%. Numbers make an impression. They give instant credibility.

Align your successes with the goals of company |

Some companies will distribute a set of goals for the year. In these cases, make sure that your goals and successes are aligned to leverage the things that are important to your leaders.

Even if your company doesn’t actually distribute goals, you need to figure out what’s important to your boss and the overall company.

Align your goals with those of your boss. This way, when you crush them, you make your boss look good. When he looks good, he will make you look good.

Be a marketing guru |

Highlight strengths but downplay weaknesses. If you led the successful implementation of the new ERP system but it was over budget, then focus on and highlight that you implemented it. Highlight the perceived or realized benefits. Don’t mention the fact that it was over budget.

Don’t lie |

This is a no-brainer. Don’t take credit for shit you didn’t do. The last thing you want is to be called out for being a liar. Remember, anything that goes on your review stays in the system forever. Being known as a liar ain’t a good career move.

Be positive |

The importance of displaying a positive attitude towards your job, your colleagues, your manager and your company can not be understated. The performance evaluation is not an avenue for you to bitch and complain. Remember how I said earlier that it becomes part of your permanent record?

No matter how pissed you are at something, use positive language.

In fact, you need to make sure nothing negative goes onto the evaluation. Nothing negative from you about the company, the job or anything else. And definitely nothig negative about you from your boss.

You can use the annual review to remind your boss about all the great things you accomplished … so that he remembers them when he’s deciding pay raises. You can use the annual review to secure a promotion. And most importantly, you can use the performance review process to set goals and expectations for the upcoming year. This way, when you crush them, your boss will notice.

Finally, the annual performance review a great way to set the stage for your future success at the company. By getting in front of it early every year, you can actively shape the image of you seen by senior leaders. This can be a deciding factor when they’re looking to promote from within.