I have many clients working in toxic cultures that minimize the contributions of good leaders as well as divide otherwise collaborative people against each other.
Often victims of these cultures internalize that they are being targeted and become paranoid. They play it safe and downplay their ingenuity to remain unseen.
They fear being terminated which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because they end up doing or saying something out of frustration that gets them in trouble.
Empowerment happens when you can tell the distinct difference between what is an assumption and what is true. Assumptions are limiting. Truth is actionable.
Here are 10 flawed assumptions that kill careers and 10 truths that advance them:
Experience can be learned. Motivation, dedication, resourcefulness and tenacity are transferable. If you know more about an industry or skill it will not alter any of these intrinsic characteristics.
Think of the lowest performer on your team. If he/she had more experience or knew your industry better would that elevate the performance? Likely not.
Education is a springboard, not an outcome. Many people with multiple degrees are not thriving. If you study what you don’t know, you will learn. A degree is a piece of paper.
Effectiveness is measurable. Abraham Lincoln, Rachael Rae, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs did not have a college degree.
Applying blindly online to random companies with the same cover letter and resume makes it difficult to find one. Search ‘Best Places to Work’ in your community and create a company watch list.
Go to events where you can meet people in those companies. Network on LinkedIn.
If you feel old, you will act old. If you feel vibrant, informed, experienced, hungry for knowledge and opportunity, that will show too.
You are not defined by your age. You must define your value or they will do it for you.
If you feel too young, you will act inexperienced. If you observe, listen deeply, ask good questions, and innovate people will value your perspective – no matter what age you are.
If you feel too “anything” you’ve trapped yourself in limited thinking.
If you don’t like yourself, others won’t either.
Victims have no power. Expectations lead to unmet expectations. “Never” “ever” and “always” represent trapped thinking.
Clearly defined goals that can be adjusted in real time lead to flexibility and fulfillment. You are the driver of your life – no one else.
You’ve been through a lot of “firsts” in your life – first day of school, marriage, new home, new town, death of a loved one, military, travel, divorce, etc.
The process is always the same: assess the situation; know what you want, gather the right people and resources, know your opportunities and threats, create systems, execute, measure, adjust and re-execute.
If you believe that you have done nothing of value, you will act that way. Make a list of everything you have accomplished in your life, including overcoming challenges and creating new things – very transferable skills.
Then list what you measurably accomplished because of it. Now you have a story to tell. Update your resume and cover letter with these. Call a recruiter.
When you connect with people it leads to a more fulfilling life. Building a supportive network is helpful for career advancement. We build relationships by identifying the people we want to know, being curious about them, asking good questions and listening to them. It’s about them not us.
That takes the pressure off us. “In your role, what keeps you up at night?” You know more people than you think who can help you. “I am seeking new career opportunities and a letter of reference from you on what we accomplished while working together would help me in my search. I’ll send you some measurable accomplishments that might make it easier.”
No matter where you work or how you feel about it show up every day with your best effort and mindset. Don’t let toxicity invade your core. You draw that boundary. Don’t lose the power that is intrinsically yours. And continue to challenge your assumptions.
If you don’t know where you’ll be at the end of the year you are already there. Here’s a link to get my FREE Career and Life Planning Tool for 2020 .
— Mary Lee Gannon
This article originally appeared on Ladders.
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