4 ways to create opportunity for your own career success

“What is the recipe for successful achievement? To my mind there are just four essential ingredients: Choose a career you love, give it the best there is in you, seize your opportunities, and be a member of the team.”

Benjamin Franklin Fairless

I came across the above quote while researching information on the topic of opportunity and it struck a chord with me as it perfectly aligns with what I believe. I am convinced that many of the opportunities for success that come our way are totally down to us. We attract or repel opportunity like a magnet depending on the way we see and respond to events.

If you carefully study the four essential ingredients for successful achievement listed above you will notice that each requires the kind of mind that looks for and creates opportunity. Choosing a career, giving it your best and becoming a member of the team are all dependent on having a positive mindset toward opportunity.

Let’s look at each one.

Choose a career you love

Why would anyone not want to get paid doing the type of work they love? Yet not everyone who wants to, does.  Pursuing a career you love takes time and effort, especially if it’s in a competitive field. An opportunistic mindset can help, for example, if you’re just starting out in your career and lack the experience you need to get the job you want. How about taking a job where you can build transferable skills? Or seeking out work experience, voluntary work or even freelance work? Find ways to be ready at the door when the job opportunity eventually knocks.

Give it your best

If you want to get ahead you need to be the type of person that sees even setbacks, delays and failures as an opportunity to give your best. Where those around you see problems you must look for possibilities and then be prepared to put in the hard work to get the result you want. Don’t do just enough to get by as this may shut the door to career progression. Always focus on what you CAN do and have to offer. Then give things your best, even if the situation looks dire.

Seize opportunity

A neglected opportunity is lost forever, and past omissions can never be supplied by future diligence. Therefore, work while it is called day.

Samuel Davies

Use your time wisely and don’t despise the day of small things. Many people overlook the chance to take ordinary events and turn them into something great. For example, you may be surprised at what can happen if you choose to go the extra mile for a customer, surprise a colleague with information they needed, or share ideas at a meeting that you’d usually had kept to yourself. You may become just the person to take on new tasks and responsibilities.

Be a member of the team

Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’

Brian Tracy

Team-players make projects happen and therefore this is an essential skill for anyone who aspires to be successful. Colleagues, clients, service users, customers, managers and suppliers will all draw on your team-play skills. Team-playing skills will also help you to fit into a workplace culture even if you are largely working alone. Whichever way you look at it, becoming a good team-player requires a mindset that looks for and responds to opportunities to work well with others so you can achieve that shared goal.

To become a team-player you must be the sort of person who seeks the opportunity to help others. If you do that you will inadvertently be creating opportunities for others to do the same for you.

So, what type of person gets ahead? The type of person who seeks and creates opportunity rather than expect others to create it for them. These are the type of employees employers look for. You might describe them as entrepreneurial, risk-takers, team-players, resilient folk. By seeking out opportunity they minimise the chances of career failure.

Six keys to becoming an innovative employee

You were not employed for your pretty face – though this may have helped – but to help your employer solve a problem. To succeed at this you must become an innovative employee.

There isn’t a business or organisation on the planet that doesn’t exist to solve a problem, whether that problem is critical, man-made or seemingly trivial. Because of this, employers look to take on innovative employees who understand this and have the skills to help them meet their objectives.

As a fresh graduate who is either looking for a job or perhaps still early in your employment career, it is absolutely crucial for you to understand your role as an innovative or entrepreneurial minded employee in a company. Innovation solves problems.

Being innovative at your workplace will make you outstanding and stay ahead of the pack. But what exactly can you do to be an innovative employee?

1.  Be as resourceful and independent as you can

Do all you can to master processes and improve upon them whenever new learning is introduced. Innovative employees help their employers improve their businesses. Even if you’re in a start up without any training program in place, learn as much as you can and share your knowledge with others.

2.  Be confident in your problem solving abilities

In almost every business, new problems and challenges pop up almost every day and they require creative and cost effective solutions. But in almost every facet of work, there are tons of things that work and that doesn’t. In order to be an innovative employee, you should display a vibrant sense of logic, confidence and awareness in solving problems at work. You should be able to decipher the difference between what works and what doesn’t. If you mistake one for the other, don’t be too shy to admit your mistake and retrace your steps.

3.  Promise only what you can deliver

Innovative employees understand the value of keeping their word. So they promise only what they can deliver and then strive to deliver more than what they promised. Going above and beyond to deliver more than anyone expects will make you an outstanding employee that is respected for being innovative.

4.  Concentrate on activities that maximize business impact

There are dozens of things you can do on your work desk. Innovative employees can easily decipher what to focus on based on the significant effect they will have on the overall business. So stay organised, make task lists, and set priorities as you have more details about what you’re targeting.

5.  Engage, commit and be ready to contribute

While it is absolutely normal for you to maintain a personal life outside of your workplace, be ready to commit to your work with full engagement. Don’t go to work with divided emotions and thoughts about your private life. So sort out your thoughts and emotions before resuming for work. Be ready to engage, commit and contribute significantly to whatever task you’re assigned.

6.  Know your limit and be willing to learn new things

Don’t pretend that you know everything – including what you don’t. Rather, identify what you know and what you don’t. Be open to learning valuable things that you don’t know that can help you improve your career. The more you’re willing to learn, the more skills you’ll acquire to become a versatile problem-solver.

Bottom line  

While innovation is often considered as the outcome of a stroke of genius, sometimes, innovation is triggered by considering a creative solution to a problem. So pay close attention to every facet of your work and consider what you can do to improve how you work and the outcome of your efforts. Be an innovative employee.

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How to Behave in a Business Environment to Maximise Your Potential

Skills and certificates are never enough to maximise your potential and be successful in your career. You also need to know how to behave in a business environment.

Your attitude is just as significant as your skills and abilities. This is why business etiquette is now a crucial part of building a successful career.  For fresh graduates, this may sound awkward. Most believe their skills and qualifications are all they need to be absolutely successful at work and that character plays only a small part.

Regardless of how good you are at what you do, you could miss out on a lot of opportunities and promotions if you ignore office etiquette. Interestingly, most office and business etiquettes are simply ethics of civilised social conduct.

So, whether you’re visiting a business environment for a job interview, or you’ve just landed a job, here are practical tips on how to behave in a business environment:

Don’t use slang while communicating

Whether you’re speaking or writing in a business environment, avoid slang in all your communication. Some slang that you find amusing could be offensive to others, while some or even all of your colleagues may not know the meaning of your slang.

Don’t treat customers or clients like old friends

While you should be friendly and approachable to customers and clients you should not become over familiar with them so that you drop your professional guard. Be careful what you say and how you treat your colleagues in front of them. Remember, the reason why the customer (and client) is always right is because they pay your wages.

Don’t interrupt others

Don’t interrupt while someone else is speaking or making a presentation. If you have any comment, observations, or even questions to ask, wait for the appropriate time to do so. Interrupting others can make you seem like a rude person, even if you’re not.

Don’t try to make others look bad

If you notice debris littering the floor of your work environment, don’t ignore it and then go ahead to tell your boss that the office needs cleaning! Rather, pick up the debris yourself. Do positive things for the sake of having a better work environment. Don’t do or say things that will make others look bad and make you look good.

Don’t try to teach people how to do their job

Except it’s your responsibility to do so, don’t try to teach people how to do their job. And if you have to for whatever reason, be as careful as possible. You may think you’re trying to help a colleague, but may end up offending whoever you’re trying to help.

Never speak badly of other employees

Regardless of what you think or assume, people gossip in almost every business environments. This is why employers appreciate employees who speak well of other good workers. If you have nothing good to say about a particular employee, you should keep your opinion or observations to yourself.  What you said about a colleague should never be the reason why there’s conflict in your workplace.

Share the credit for an outstanding performance

In a business environment, no one likes a colleague who takes all the credit. Regardless of the amount of time and effort you’ve invested to achieve what you did, acknowledge the contribution of your colleagues that were involved. This is one easy way to boost your reputation.

Do not get involved in religious or political conversations

One of the easiest ways to get into heated arguments in a business environment is to be involved in political and religious conversations. You should consider keeping your religious and political views to yourself at least while you’re in a business environment, unless someone asks you directly. Sometimes, voicing your opinion on current events may also cause heated arguments.

Bottom line

As awkward as it seems, more often, an employee with the right business etiquette is better appreciated that a skilled one without the right attitude. So give yourself an edge, complement your skills and abilities with the right workplace attitude. In whatever you do, learn to respect others, it works like magic.

How to demonstrate your entrepreneurial mindset to an employer

An entrepreneur is a person who notices things most of us don’t. They use this skill to not only help solve the world’s pressing problems – sources of renewable energy come to mind – but also to invent things the world didn’t know it needed but which make it a nicer place – like Nutella and dancing tango.

Because of this, people with entrepreneur as a soft skill are prized by employers. They want employees who will make a difference at work. When many bemoan their lot in life the entrepreneur uses his lot to create a life.

Being entrepreneurial isn’t simply about making money. It isn’t about running a business. It’s a mindset. You can use your entrepreneurial skills to influence governments and policy. It can serve you in practically any type of job role as it is the skill that describes your tenacity, leadership, creativity, problem solving and action-orientated mindset.

Do you have the soft skill of an entrepreneur?

But how do you know if you have an entrepreneurial mindset? And is it possible to cultivate one if you don’t? For sure, you will need this skill if you want to work for a top employer or to go far in your career. The problem is, although most employers look for people who are entrepreneurial it isn’t always obvious on a job advert. Sometimes it is masked behind other skills.

Here are some of the top skills that lie behind an entrepreneurial mindset:

Innovative – is at the top of the list. You will be creative, original, or able to spin a new take on the usual. Although most top employers tend to look for a certain type of individual you will also find they are open to people who bring something different.

Ambition and drive – when we think of an entrepreneur we think of a person fully alive and with bag loads of energy. You need this extra energy to make another attempt when things go wrong or are delayed. You’ll use it to persistently press on when other people want to give up.

Responsibility – an entrepreneur is someone who loves responsibility, not one who shies away from it. People who refuse to take responsibility for anything but blame others and make excuses are a turn off. If instead you do what must be done, and stay on it until it is, you’ll be continually and increasingly entrusted with more opportunities. Responsibility walks with honesty, care, trustworthiness, humility and a desire and willingness to learn.

Initiative – an entrepreneur does not need to be spoon-feed, hand-held or babysat to do their job. Initiative is about thinking and acting for yourself – “No one told me to do it” will not be a part of your vocabulary or an excuse for failing to get things done. This is a person that both thinks and acts.

Communicator – you’ll be good at getting your message across and helping others to see what you see. To do this successfully you must create a connection between the people you are trying to communicate with and yourself. It is never one-sided. Communication is tied up with concepts of empathy and intimacy.

Listener – not only will you be good at expressing yourself and telling others about your ideas, you will be equally happy, and keen, to listen to other people’s ideas too. Your people-building skills will also come into play here as you give others the opportunity to grow. 

A ‘can-do’ man/woman – having great ideas is one thing, making them work is quite another. Henry Ford once said, “Don’t find fault, find remedy.” This will be your mantra too – you don’t just come up with those good ideas but will have a willingness to make them work, even if that means finding a man or woman who can.

Problem solver – similar to the above a problem solver looks for ways to remedy situations that come up. They like a challenge and see them as opportunities rather than set-backs. As far as they are concerned there is always a way forward, so they tend not to lose their heads but have a calm manner as they go about finding that way.

Teamworker – you will understand that not only was Rome not built in a day, but it wasn’t built by a single person working alone. It takes a group of people who ‘get it’ to build a great team, and a great team to achieve great things. Even the most famous inventors among us did not do it alone but had a great team behind them. Hog the limelight and trample over others and you will alienate people and make them unwilling to help you.

Inspiration – is other energy force the entrepreneur has in good supply and it will be used in a variety of ways. You will use inspiration when you are communicating your vision to your team and trying to get them on board. You will use it to keep yourself from giving up when the going gets tough, and to help others to do the same.

There you have a number of skills to get you started on the road to recognising what it means to be entrepreneurial. Begin to cultivate these skills in yourself wherever and whenever you get the opportunity. Then go solve the world’s problems and invent stuff that make it a nicer place.