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The Great Realization: Leveraging your Job

We grow or die. 

Sound harsh? This is not literal sense, although, for some, it can seem that way. We either grow in what we do and how we do it each day, or we can become stagnant and apathetic. We can feel stuck if we are not intentionally looking at ways to improve, work more efficiently, skill up, and become better at leveraging our job. 

Once we establish our rhythm and routine, the risk becomes settling into a job. While being comfortable when we do what we do is not an unacceptable posture, it’s more how we can acquiesce and become complacent. We need to keep challenging our mindset and skillset. In a way, we need to infuse some disruption and discomfort to stimulate growth. Like pruning a tree to support future growth. 

I have seen employees become so settled that when change comes, and change is definitely inevitable, they fight it. They wrap their arms around the comfort, dig in their heals, and miss the opportunities to grow into and through the change. They may very well lack the willingness, honesty and openness to be uncomfortable and grow forward. Resulting in not leveraging their job.

Employees need to learn to be okay with the unknown, and often, the unexpected. They need to leverage where they are by testing their boundaries, challenging the impossible, and questioning everything. They need to learn to capitalize on challenges rather than be defeated by them, and maximize the opportunities and possibilities that lie ahead rather than letting the potential slip by in favor of being comfortably settled in. 

Pruning to support future growth.
Pruning plant for growth.

Be Curious and Take Risks

Just because we have the knowledge to stay busy does not mean we shouldn’t continue to broaden what we know and learn new things. Once we have the foundation established, it’s a reasonable time to take some risks. What’s the old saying, “better to beg forgiveness than ask for permission.” Not necessarily all scenarios; ones within reason. Connect with our boss and peers, share our vision and give it go. Explore and be curious. 

Seek Growth Opportunities

Maybe there is a company succession plan to follow for leveraging your job. Some type of strategic process for identifying high-potential employees with specific steps to prepare them for future positions. Could be inter-departmental, leadership or educational development opportunities. And if there isn’t a pathway, it’s on us to look for ways to develop and improve our skills. Workshops, books, videos, research, blogs, mentorship – each of these are available if we put in the time and energy. Also, check with the employer, there may be ways to encourage and subsidize these opportunities.

Seek growth opportunities for leveraging your job.
Books for learning.

Relationship Building 

Relationships are essential in any job, whether we’re on a team or have to work alone. As we grow into our job, the goal is about enlarging our sphere of influence through networking, collaboration and simply getting to know the people around us. Sometimes we must be wary of select relationships, and ever mindful of the extent we relate to one another. I often tell my mentees that working within a company is similar to playing chess. Calculating moves and counter moves. Be aware, pay attention, and remember, it is better to remain silent and thought a fool, than speaking and remove all doubt. 

Team collaboration.

Ignite and Amplify Your Passion

Just because we may not be doing what we thought we’d be doing; doesn’t mean we can’t do what we are doing in a way that aligns with our calling. My cancer story highlights a realization of how I saw my passion and purpose become transformed. I took what I was doing, and crafted ways that purpose could work in tandem with my day-to-day. Each day, we decide…are we constrained by a job or committed to live out our passion in any and every way possible? 

It’s the Little Things 

This last call-out is subtle. It is challenging each of us in two ways. One, always look at the details. Take the time to pay attention to even the slightest of things that make us better…for each of us and the people we serve. People notice details. Two, it won’t necessarily be big things that help us get the most out of leveraging our job, it will be little things, done each day consistently. We leverage the most of our job when we can show the same amount of energy for the mundane than we do the extraordinary. 

Let’s be real, jobs come and go. Paraphrasing from an old study, the average number of jobs a person would have in their professional life changed in each generation. For the Greatest Generation, it was 1 job. Boomers were at 2, Gen X at 6 to 7, and Millennials averaged at about 13 jobs. Accuracy of this data aside, it does show, people are presently more likely to job hop. This became a very real aspect of the business reality in the past two years with the Great Resignation. 

I am finding the realization is we are now more mindful of the job we have. We want meaning and purpose in our nine-to-five, and are more intentional about how our purpose intertwines with our day-to-day. Leveraging what we do and how we do it can lead us to the difference between a job or a career. Because, me, I don’t have a job, I have a joy. Our choice.

This is the fifth episode in the series, The Great Realization. If you are new to The Great Realization, check out our other posts in this series here.

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