“The evolving you is not a moving target, but pursues a moving target.” ~ Alan Weiss & Marshall Goldsmith
In their book, Lifestorming: Creating Meaning and Achievement in Your Career and Life, Alan Weiss and Marshall Goldsmith explore what it takes to make significant changes in our lives in order to achieve our goals – both personal and professional.
Their premise is that our existing behaviors get in our way to sustained change. To make a significant change, we need to change our behavior. They note that the “great fallacy of creating lasting change is that we only have to do it once.” The fact is that as soon as one benchmark is achieved, another appears.
Wiess and Goldsmith – two prominent consultants and coaches – provide a roadmap of sorts to navigate the evolving journey of life; one where the “there” is constantly migrating.
This holds true for career advancement as well. In order to rise to the next level in our careers, we can’t wait for others to provide opportunities. By making key behavioral changes, we start to change our environment rather than be changed by it. Often, the behaviors and actions that served us well early in our careers aren’t as effective as we progress.
I’ve been working with “Sarah” who has had a successful career, but she plateaued in her company and was not getting opportunities to advance to the leadership roles she desired. So she decided to look elsewhere.
One of the things we’ve worked on is getting Sarah to frame her “story” in terms of where she wants to be rather than where she’s been. We used her StrengthsFinder themes to create a narrative that built on her achievements and reflected her goals. It was a narrative framed around leadership as opposed to subject matter expertise. Sarah pivoted from being the smartest person in the room with all the right answers to being a strategic leader asking smart questions.
Sarah began telling her new story to key people in her circle of influence – people in her network who know and respect her. These critical folks saw her in a new light – as a leader rather than a subject matter expert. They began to share roles and opportunities they felt she could do as opposed to the roles she’s done in the past. Basically, Sarah shifted the context of how her network saw her.
Create Your Legacy Every Day
Weiss and Goldsmith point out that the higher we rise in our careers, the more challenges become behavioral. At high levels, everyone is smart, accomplished and technically skilled. People skills become the differentiator of success.
The higher we rise, the more responsible we become for helping others rise. We’ve already proved that we can win, add value, be smart and claim credit. Our job is to help others show what they can do.
To reach higher levels, we have to let go before we can reach out. We have to identify the next steps, recognize the next level, and understand how to replace old behaviors with those that support the journey to our moving target.
Weiss and Goldsmith point out that it’s difficult to change behavior that limits us. It’s more effective to substitute more positive behavior that moves us forward. They offer five questions to ask ourselves as we seek to create a better future:
- What behaviors do I seek to change?
- What behavior will I substitute?
- What assistance do I need to help with the change?
- What metrics will tell me I’m making progress?
- What will I do to sustain the change?
So, as you seek to move forward in your career, what behaviors are holding you back? What new behaviors can you adopt that will help you move forward? Who can help you incorporate that new behavior? And how will you know you’re making progress?
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