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Three mistakes to avoid in your career

by Craig Badings

Three mistakes to avoid in your career

We’ve all messed up at some stage in our careers – some more than others, and some with far bigger repercussions than others. So most of us know the feeling to varying degrees. But putting these aside for a moment, there are three common mistakes that stand in the way of you getting ahead in the workplace.

No plan

I don’t know about you but when I started my working life I had no plan. Why should I? I had studied for four years, got my degree and diploma, and now I was working. Right?

Wrong. For every job you go into you should have a plan and it should be written down.

At the very least you should ask and have written answers for the following questions:

  1. What’s my role and what do I want to achieve in it?
  2. How am I going to do this and over what time frame?
  3. Who do I need to know internally and externally?
  4. What do I need to know to make this role a success?
  5. What will be my measurements of success?

Once it’s written down you can go back to it, remind yourself and importantly, given that circumstances can change rapidly, adjust it to meet these changes.

Stop learning

You’ve been to university or TAFE or you’ve done an apprenticeship, so now you’re done with the learning bit and it’s time to get on with the job.

Wrong. This attitude is the kiss of death. I never forget a previous PR company I worked for who had as one of their values ‘Learn and Grow’. They lived it and boy did people love it. It was motivational, you felt alive with possibilities and best of all, besides the personal growth, clients benefitted from a very engaged and creative team of people.

I reckon the day I stop learning is the day I die. It’s actually one of my mottos. I couldn’t imagine a life more boring than one where all the learning is done and you merely go about your day to day business robotically.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be work related but rather anything that builds on your skills and core competencies.

Ask your manager what course they offer or whether they are prepared to fund sending you on certain training courses. A willingness on your part to actively develop your skill set should send a positive message to the company.

Not standing for anything

Be known for something. Become an expert in something. Have people seek you out because of a specialist skill or knowledge or expertise. Become a thought leaderin your industry, your sector.

It is one of the best ways to get ahead in your role and in business.

The bottom line is that if you become a recognised expert or thought leader in an area of your business, you will have people inside and outside your organisation recognising you for your expertise. Not only will your path to becoming an expert be exciting and rewarding but you will learn something new every day and come into contact with some wonderful people. It will open doors that otherwise would never have opened. Don’t be a grey person – the person who shrinks into the background who doesn’t stand for anything and who plods along.

But I’m an introvert I hear you say, I’m only a support person, I’m only a secretary, I’m the junior. So what? That doesn’t mean you can’t specialise in something or become truly expert at what you do. You could be exploring how to keep current, refreshed, invigorated, challenged, and stimulated no matter what your role.

It’s time to get busy and write down that plan.

This article was originally published on the Firebrand Ideas Ignition blog

About the author


Craig Badings is a director at Sydney-based, Cannings Corporate Communications. He is the co-author of the award winning #THOUGHT LEADERSHIP Tweet: 140 Prompts for Designing and Executing an Effective Thought Leadership Campaign. He published his first book on thought leadership in 2009: “Brand Stand: seven steps to thought leadership” Join him on twitter @thoughtstrategy and on LinkedIn and check out his new blog site

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