Friday, March 1, 2013

Clarifying Your Career Strategy

As the workforce downsizes considerably, many of us wear several different hats at our jobs. You may pride yourself on being able to multitask or always being that “go-to person” your boss relies on, but are these qualities going to help advance your career?

Greg McKeown is a business and leadership consultant and author of The Disciplined Pursuit of Less(Harvard Business Review,, 8/8/2012) and The #1 Career Mistake Capable People Make (, 12/6/2012). According to McKeown, the capable person often finds himself/herself “overworked and underutilized,” and McKeown has advice on how to positively shift your career in the right direction.

Determine the highest point of contribution
Start by looking at opportunities differently. Instead of taking on many, less-significant work assignments, ask yourself what projects reflect your highest point of contribution. Use what McKeown defines as “extreme criteria” to get you there. To do this, ask yourself: What am I deeply passionate about? What taps into my talent? What meets a significant need in the world?

Determine essentials and eliminate the rest
When you give yourself permission to eliminate the excess, you can accomplish more meaningful tasks. Don’t take on a new project until you eliminate an old one. Don’t add a project that is less valuable than one you are currently working on. Just like cleaning out a closet, determine what really matters to you and get rid of the excess.

Don’t assume ownership equals value.
Having trouble determining the value of a project? Ask yourself, if you didn’t have it, how much would you be willing to sacrifice to obtain it? By seeking value and purpose in every task you do, you can focus on what is important and meaningful in your career. DON'T make this a once-a-year discussion at your annual review. DO take on the ability to focus, reduce, and simplify as your ultimate challenge for success.

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