In my job I’m constantly interacting with people at different stages of their career journey.
Whilst everyone starts on a fairly even starting point (i.e. university degree, first full-time job etc.) there are some who have been more successful than others. So it made me think about why were some more successful than others.
The answer I came to was this: those who are more successful have consistently put their best self forward building a positive reputation and therefore opening up more opportunities.
While coming up with the topic was easy, it has taken me a while to be able to think about how I would articulate what this means and what you can do about it. But I’ve finally landed on 3 things that I believe you should do to help you find your best self:
1 // Listen
Listening is sometimes an underrated skill. We are not always good at listening, particularly when it is something we don’t think we need (or want) to hear. But listening is how you can learn a lot. There’s a great quote by Jimi Hendrix “knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.”
I also include reading in there as well (as sometimes information is emailed rather than a meeting being scheduled). Something that might not seem relevant now, may be really important later, so never underestimate this skill. Also, one of the biggest mistakes candidates make is asking questions to which the answers have already been provided. This doesn’t make you look good at all.
2 // Observe
Observation is also how we learn. From simple things like how a senior person starts a meeting or what others wear in the office. Look at how successful people conduct themselves and make mental notes. Even before you join an organisation, you can make simple observations that will help you decide whether that is somewhere you want to work. For example, at a University Career Fair, how do company representatives conduct themselves – how are they dressed, how is their booth presented? This can help you decide (before you’ve even spoken to them) if you are going to enjoy working there.
3 // Contribute
Contribution is equally important, as this is how you start to practice and improve what you are learning. Contribution comes in many forms but basically I mean proactively participating.
Successful people do not sit back and wait for someone else to push them into action. You need to take accountability for your own success by looking for opportunities to show people what you are capable of. This doesn’t mean you will necessarily do a great job each time – sometimes we fail and we have to pick ourselves up again …. and that’s OK.
I see this a lot particularly with graduates in a formal graduate program. The program itself sometimes implies that the road ahead is clear and that graduates just need to keep cruising. Well that’s not the case. Graduate programs provide a framework, they don’t provide a guaranteed result. So what can make this difficult or more simpler for some people?
It can be a lot of things, but I have found that personality can play a huge part in it. Some personality traits can either make it harder or easier to be successful. For example, arrogance usually blocks listening and observing whereas a driven person is usually a great contributor.
So what is the message here?
We all have our own unique personality that we bring to the table, but it is our ability to understand who we are and what our preferences are that allow us to either dial up or dial down certain traits at particularly points in time. Particularly in a professional environment, where first impressions count (a lot!). Also, having a better understanding of ourselves means that we can make better decisions, including where we work and the job we do.
So how do we make better career decisions? By knowing yourself and using the knowledge and experience you have gained through listening, observing and contributing.
You attract the right things when you have a sense of who you are.
Written by Kelly Pfeffer, Graduate Talent Lead @ Suncorp.
We love having Suncorp as our Best Self Partner for generationYOU Brisbane 2017.
Without a doubt, Kelly is a graduate recruitment legend – in her role as Graduate Talent Lead she recruits nationally for both Suncorp’s Graduate and Vacation Programs. She is also the board chair for the Australian Association of Graduate Employers (AAGE).