Are You "Bringing It" To Work?

Expert advice on how to “ask your way up” and to manage your career aspirations.

by Caroline Dowd-Higgins • Member { View Profile }
Caroline Dowd-Higgins is the author of "This Is Not the Career I Ordered" and maintains the career reinvention blog She is the Director of Career & Professional Development at Indiana University Maurer School of Law.

I was at my gym the other day, and one of the trainers shouted, “Bring it!” as I added another level of weights to my strength-training regimen. As I hoisted the heavier kettle bell, my trainer’s coaching to “bring it” made me think of how this concept is also applicable in our careers.

It takes courage and conviction to seek out your career destiny so it doesn’t happen by default. So many people let the momentum of a job take them on a path that leads them to a place they have no desire to go. Power is not given, but taken. You have the power to take small and incremental steps on your personal career journey to lead you to where you want to go. You also have the power to make stretch goals and expand your comfort zone to take risks and try new things.

Are You Bringing It?

I’m the first to tell you that it’s not always easy but it is certainly doable. The first step comes from articulating what you want in your professional life. Say it out loud; write it down, and then start to own your aspirations by telling others. Before you know it, people will surface who can help you on your customized career journey. You will attract members of your Personal Board of Directors when you start to envision what it is you really want in life and there is no better time to start than now!

Lean In To Your Career

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, gave an inspiring graduation speech at Barnard College in 2011 that lives on in the blogosphere. She told the young graduates to be ambitious and self-confident, and to “lean in” to their careers, especially since control was theirs for the taking. The world will present many choices during your professional lifetime and career paths can be circuitous and inevitably, they will change. But if you “lean back” and let things just happen by default, you lose the power of choice you so richly deserve.

According to Sheryl: “Put your foot on that gas pedal, and keep it there until the day you have to make a decision, and then make a decision that honors you.” Be excellent at what you do and lean into your career with self-confidence and the power to control your professional destiny.

Make Time for Dreams

Give yourself permission to dream. It’s healthy and exhilarating to think big and be ambitious about what you really want personally and professionally. Leadership belongs to those who take it and career management is leadership behavior. Leadership has nothing to do with rank. Whether you are an entry-level employee or a C-Suite executive, you must take your career future into your own hands.

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day minutiae and forget to honor your dreams. Work/life integration is tough and balance is next to impossible, but dreaming will empower you to rejuvenate and focus on what you really want. Dreams are necessary to develop your goals and they tap your creativity to consider the possibilities.

Only you can define what success and happiness means to you, dreaming gives you permission to design your life and career destiny. Dreaming begs the question – what would you do if you weren’t afraid?  Fortune begs the bold – don’t let your fears overwhelm your desire and give yourself time to dream big so you can begin to make it your reality.

Expand Your Comfort Zone

Put yourself out there because you will never know what you are capable of unless you try. Aim high and don’t think about stepping out of your comfort zone as a painful process. Consider expanding your comfort zone as a way to sharpen your strengths and discover new passions.

Naomi C. Earp, former Commissioner of the EEOC said: “Society moves forward because people venture something new, not because they play it safe. Push through your fear and seize new opportunities.” You’ve got to identify how you want to bring it career wise.

Ask Your Way Up

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