Instead of trying to get comfortable in your job, try to get constantly uncomfortable. Seek out problems, look for potentially painful experiences, approach the scariest people, juggle more balls than most people handle, and put an extra percentage of “umph” into everything you do.
You will likely find that you can do what you never thought you could. Here are some CEOs’ versions of doing more early on in their careers:
“I specifically looked for work in areas where there was no competition—or slothful, stupid competition.”
“To stand out from my competitors, I always offered to work for a month for free, and at the end of it, if I liked the organization and they liked my work, it was a win-win situation for both.”
“I discovered that standing out from the crowd is not about putting in an extraordinary effort on a single task, or a single job, or on a single day. It is simply doing the little things that others aren’t willing to do . . . and not just when you feel like doing them but the whole time.”
“It’s trite, but I try to be more informed, work harder, quicker, and hopefully smarter than my peers . . . and with no higher priority than to solve problems.”
If you are in sales, sell more, to more people while spending less on expenses, and help your fellow salespeople do the same. If you are in finance, figure out ways to save the company money as well as increase revenues and worth. Share what you’re doing with colleagues to assist them in doing the same. If you are in IT, make information more accessible, usable, and faster across the board, and lend a hand to the non-techie types to make the technology easier for them. If you are in marketing, creatively get more positive exposure for the organization to support sales, and be inclusive of other departments’ goals too. And if you are in human resources, resolve issues quicker, get processes in place, and communicate among all levels more efficiently and effectively so all have buy-in.
When TJ Walker’s book came out, TJ Walker’s Secret to Fullproof Presentations (Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2009), he wanted to do more to promote it. He set a goal to conduct a record number of talk show interviews in a 24-hour period. With massive behind-the-scenes organization culminating in the daylong event, he succeeded in getting 112 talk show interviews scheduled. It literally qualified him for the Guinness Book of Records, which brought another wave of publicity. He said it was physically grueling to stay awake for 24 hours, but his book ended up at number one on the bestseller lists for USA Today, Businessweek, and the Wall Street Journal.
If work opportunities aren’t coming fast enough, go find them. If you risk and fail, you’re still further ahead in learning than those who didn’t try.
Debra Benton/Kylie Wright-Ford, co-authors of the new book, The Leadership Mind Switch (McGraw-Hill, 2017)