Ahead of the Curve, Strategies for Success: The New Formula for Career Success

3 min read · 7 years ago



to researchers at IBM, constant change is the new normal in business, and
uncertainty the only uncertain. This radical instability fundamentally
undermines the foundation of traditional career advancement models, grounded in
stable organizations, working environments, and job hierarchies to ascend. In
an age of ongoing disruption, an entirely new set of professional skills is now
required to sustain continued career growth and progression. As we
discovered through our research, following are eight new rules needed for
professional success in increasingly unpredictable career environments – and
eight ways you can use them to continually vault yourself ahead of the

Become Essential –
You’ve got to be crucial to your organization – not someone that’s easily
replaced. For example: You might be the company’s go-to IT security expert, a
crucial member of its regulatory management team, or a highly sought-after
internal thought leader. If others can do what you do, you’re already on the
road to irrelevance. Instead, be a lynchpin, or crucial piece in any system –
one that’s fundamentally difficult and expensive to replace.

Rethink Your Value – Never
stop learning, improving, and investing in yourself – then consistently apply
these talents in ways that go far beyond your job description. For example: If
you’re a programmer, take design and marketing classes so you can create more
user-friendly and engaging products. If you’re a marketer, spend more time with
your programmers so you can find new ways to leverage your creative ideas
through technology. The more versatile you make yourself, the more adaptable,
resourceful and uniquely value-adding you can be.

Change and Evolve – Get
the capabilities, skills and insights today that will be in-demand tomorrow.
Take steps to acquire the talents, contacts and resources you’ll need to
succeed in the future, so you can be in a more advantageous position to greet
it when it arrives. Know where you want to go in your career, have a plan for
getting there, and voluntarily push yourself to learn, grow and take on more
leadership and responsibility – even if this means
taking small steps in different directions until bigger ones become more

Create Your Own Opportunities – Go,
see, try and do. Put yourself into situations that place you outside your
comfort zone, like taking on unfamiliar tasks that require you to do new things
with new people. Be open-minded, and soak up as much knowledge and learning as
you can – then apply it vigorously. The more you do so, the more you’ll
consistently put yourself in opportunity’s path and the greater your chances of
finding it will be.

Never Stop Learning – Constantly
look for ways to expand your education and insights – the most resilient
leaders are eternal students, and possess talent and training that’s applicable
to a wide range of professional contexts. Think of it this way: The more
resources you’ve got in your professional toolkit, and ways you can use them,
the more future-proof you’ll be.

Embrace Difficult Challenges – Seek
out hard tasks that others avoid: It means you’ve got less competition, and the
benefits of accomplishing these tasks will be more singular and value. Look to
apply a variety of skills and insights while doing so too: The more you
exercise different talents while others exercise the same ones over and over,
the more versatile you’ll be. Applying focused effort towards accomplishing
larger goals can help you achieve more. And the more you push your comfort
zone, the more you’ll increase your courage and capabilities.

Go Above and Beyond – What
personal activities are you pursuing that can teach you marketable skills, or
push you closer towards achieving your career goals? Going forward, your work,
your reputation, and your contributions will be your résumé—use off-hours
opportunities as a chance to grow and enhance them, and set yourselves apart
while others shy away from opportunity.

Take Smart Risks – The
more you do the same things over time, the less value they hold in a rapidly-changing
world. Faced with change, you’ve got to take risks that can help propel you
further towards achieving your goals. But being risky doesn’t necessarily mean
being reckless: Rather, smarter about where you place your bets. Pick a
portfolio of promising growth activities – start a part-time business, launch a
new product, volunteer to lead an innovative new venture, etc. – then pursue
them, readjusting your strategies as you go based on the results achieved. Keep
taking promising risks that put you in chance’s sights, and put you in a
position to succeed.

Award-winning professional
Scott Steinberg is a bestselling expert on leadership and
innovation, and the author of
Make Change Work
for You: 10 Ways to Future-Proof Yourself, Fearlessly Innovate, and Succeed
Despite Uncertainty
. Among today’s leading providers of keynote speeches, workshops
and seminars for Fortune 500 firms
his website is www.AKeynoteSpeaker.com.