One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is an on-going, self-guided education. Build your own curriculum and make the choices about what and how you will be proficient.
I am not just talking about learning something new, I mean becoming competent, even becoming an expert, in very few things. It takes hard work, practice, and dedication, but, when you become competent, you will get to a place of confidence. You will stand out among your peers. You will deserve a seat at the table.
This type of education continues for your entire life. Recently, I returned to my roots as an artist. For many years, I had not picked up a paint brush, but in 2015 I decided to give it a whirl. I worked tirelessly to regain my competence as an artist. I failed, I succeeded, I got frustrated, but most of all, I put in hours and hours of practice until I finally got back into my rhythm. Now I have had three successful art shows; two in New York City. A lifelong dream come true. So, it is never too late!
When you find your special knowledge and skills, you must develop a point of view, and then you must articulate that point of view. As part of the team, your opinions and hard-earned knowledge should be valued and help solve problems and build opportunities. This helps your team and your managers understand that you have thought things through. You have mastered your area of competency and are therefore given the respect you deserve.
Also read: Own Your Power
One of my cardinal sins in any meeting is when individuals are invited to participate but then they don’t! If you are a team leader, expect and demand that the members of your team have something to contribute. My teams at T3 are expected to perform at the highest levels, and everyone’s voice is valued and heard.
My other pet peeve is to leave a meeting or a conversation and be left scratching my head because no one knows next steps. No one has a clear direction. The situation is left in a vague state of nothingness and confusion. Don’t settle for vague answers. Press for specific comments you can tie to actions.
If you start with yourself, and spend time building your own competence and expertise, you will have a justifiably clear point of view. Speak up and contribute in extraordinary ways. Drive for specific outcomes and expectations. Living in a sea of vague illusions gets you nowhere. Time is our most valuable asset. Don’t waste it.
Put these principles to work and not only will you become a key member on your team, but the C-Suite will take notice. Personally, as a CEO, I always know who is pushing ahead and making a difference–ones who are going above and beyond. These are the people that get talked about in the management meetings and in casual conversations around the office. You would be surprised to know that these efforts on your part rarely go unnoticed.