Seven Skills You Must Master to Thrive in Your Career (Part 1)

When I work with executive coaching clients, I help them explore what they want most from their careers–and by extension, their lives–and then I help them get it.

To do this, we examine what their dream outcome would be. Once we clearly have this vision, we figure out how to make that a reality—this is no small task! In doing this exercise, we often uncover beliefs and skill gaps that need to be addressed before the goal can come to fruition.

Although each person’s journey is different and their story unique, there are some themes in terms of the competencies a person must develop in order to truly thrive professionally.

In this two-part post, I’ve pulled these themes together so you can see how you are progressing in developing these career muscles. In my experience coaching hundreds of professionals, these essential core skill sets come up, again and again, related to career success and satisfaction.

Here are skills 1-4, in no particular order:

1. Adaptability.

You’ve heard the saying, “The only thing that is constant is change.” Change is happening all around us, and to us, all the time. You need to be able to shift to stay relevant professionally if you are to achieve your goals. I often find myself encouraging clients to detach from the outcome. This means that you figure out what you most want to achieve, and then take steps to achieve it, as real life happens around you and unforeseen factors both help you progress and sometimes impede your progress. You have to make peace with the reality that you may not achieve the goal in the fashion you intended, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t get there. Remember: when a door closes, a window opens.

2. Persistence.

Obstacles are a reality of life. Projects get canceled, team members or managers leave the organization, and employment gets terminated. Fear arises when we try something new like presenting to the Board, interviewing with a powerful executive team, or readying ourselves for a new position with more authority, visibility, and risk. It can be tempting to turn back, stop trying, and/or declare failure when we encounter these barriers. And, that is precisely the moment to deliberately push forward, even if all you can manage in this moment is a tiny step.

Nervous about a big presentation? Make a bulleted outline. Want to write a book but can’t find the time? Write one paragraph a day for the first two weeks. You are literally training your body, mind, and spirit to know that obstacles are simply energy–and you can work with energy to shift it and ultimately move past it. Think about what you would tell a child struggling to achieve a goal. Now, tell that same message to yourself, stop thinking the blockage, and get on with it.

3. Action-orientation.

You have to take action before you’re ready. I can’t tell you how many people come through my doors feeling like they have to figure everything out before they take one step toward their goal. This is a trap and the path to broken dreams.

Cliché as it may sound, we don’t know how much time we have on this earth. You know enough already to get started toward making your goals a reality. Consistent baby steps help the goal become clearer, day-by-day.

Although I’m all for planning, I have seen so many times when clients–myself included–have fallen into analysis paralysis, and frustration builds rather than advances progress. If this sounds like something you fall prey to, simply take one action today toward your goal instead of thinking about it. You’ll be one step closer to what you want.

4. Inner kindness.

Language is powerful, both when talking to others and to ourselves. I am convinced from study and experience over ten years of coaching that people go further when they refuse to spend any of their energy belittling themselves.

If you find yourself saying things in your head like, “I can never get ahead” or “I’m never going to get what I want,” or “I can’t do it,” STOP! Exchange the words for something else.

We each have a finite amount of energy each day, like a gas tank. When you talk down to yourself, you deplete the energy in your tank. Save it and use it for something else, something that supports your dreams. This works, by the way, even if you don’t believe it. Our language has power; use it for good!

Note: It does not work to engage the inner critic in your head. Learn to acknowledge the voice and say, “Thank you for sharing,” and then continue towards your goals.

In Part 2 of this post, I will share the remaining three skills you must master. Be sure to check back to get all seven skills!

Photo credit: TC Morgan Joy is not in things; it is in us. via photopin All rights reserved by the author

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