Coaching client Katie expressed her frustration with great passion and clarity. “I just can’t get the traction I need to move my career forward at the speed I want. Or any speed most days!”
Bang! She nailed it! So while she was in this charged-up state, we immediately invested 15 minutes in a simple exercise you or I can easily do on our own. We made a list of specific factors Katie believed were holding her back in her career.
Here are ten items from Katie’s list. She rattled these off in this order in less than three minutes!
- A tendency to stall; to procrastinate rather than to take even simple first steps.
- A difficult boss – who has a consistent habit of refusing to coach his subordinates in any area of their skills.
- Time, or rather the apparent lack of it.
- Inexperience and fear of speaking in front of others.
- Feeling tired and worn down from the pace of daily commuting in traffic, deadlines, other staff who don’t pull their own weight, excessive email volume, and dozens of daily interruptions by others that break her concentration.
- Lack of access to difficulty building rapport with those higher up in the organization.
- A business environment where collaboration is outwardly discouraged.
- Too many ‘bends’ in even the most simple of processes – a bend being any step, approval, document or other administrative hurdle that slows the process down for no apparent benefit.
- Constant low priority busy work – draining limited energy away from getting important things done.
- Unclear performance criteria.
I acknowledge that the creation of a list doesn’t solve anything. Far from it. But rather than a foggy feeling of general frustration, it gives us clear baseline to work from. From your list, you can take the next steps of identifying the factors you have control over and lay out a plan of action. You can also focus in on factors you can’t control, and devise a plan to work around, over, under or with these barriers.
The first step of any improvement plan is the gift of quiet time to assess where we are right now, what specific factors around us move us forward and which ones get in our way. From that analysis, a plan comes next.
Be honest – what’s holding you back? Give yourself the gift of 15 minutes of quiet time to develop your list. Decide right now which factors you can address and the ones you have to tolerate at least for the short run. Write it out in a bullet point list. It it’s not written, it’s not a plan. Then act on the issues you can influence. Simple steps every day add up to measurable results.
No one else is responsible for your progress except you. Like Katie, take complete control of your future. Right now – make a list, build a plan, and start taking action.
John J. Hall, CPA
John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events. Throughout his 38-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”