Whether you’re an athlete or a coach, professionals perform at a very high level. To perform at this level you, too, will want to act and be a professional. Here are five tips to help you achieve this – at work and on the track.
#1 Surround yourself with experienced professionals.
The number one thing you need to do as a professional is surround yourself with other experienced professionals. It’s the best way to get smart fast. When you’re starting out, you likely don’t have enough experience to recognize what you don’t know. Later on, you will still pick up ideas, tips and techniques – and learn by watching and listening – so you won’t have to reinvent the wheel. Surrounding yourself with other professionals with more experience can also help you to avoid making big mistakes.
#2 Take ownership of your goals.
Set your own goals and own them. Don’t allow anyone to convince you that you’re dreaming too big. Seek experienced advice regarding your short-term goals, but be very selective about who you receive information from and how much weight you give it.
#3 Take ownership of your program and assignments.
Even if you are an employee or on contract, act like an owner. Treat your coaches, supervisors, co-workers and colleagues as if they are your number one customer or client. Imagine yourself standing in the shoes of a fan, a customer or a client.
Given enough experience, you will know that when a client has determined to move forward and/or acquire your services she probably needed the work done yesterday, last week, last month or last year. Ditto for your supervisor. Instead of asking for a deadline, take ownership of the task. Determine when you can complete the job and set your own deadline — then ask your supervisor/client if that will work for her. Taking ownership gives the people around you confidence in you, which leads to more responsibility and new opportunities.
#4 Be a finisher.
If you were a customer or client how would you feel if you paid hard-earned dollars for a service and your consultant said, “Here are your problems, and I haven’t even thought about the solution”? You would most likely come to a fairly quick conclusion that you should hire someone else to get the job done.
You need to bring forth solutions – not just restate the problem. Being a finisher means taking your assignments as far as you can. Don’t quit at the first sight of difficulty or ask your supervisor for the answer. Dig in and try to find the answer for yourself. If you do need help, try to come prepared with options and recommendations for your supervisor.
Being a finisher doesn’t mean, however, that everything will be perfect when you cross the finish line.
The few extra steps you take to find a solution, even if the solution is not ideal or complete, demonstrate that you cared enough to exhaust your efforts to help. Chances are this extra effort will either eliminate the amount of work left for your colleagues or boss to identify the best solution. Most important, not giving up when you hit what appears to be an impenetrable wall is exactly what’s necessary to get into the habit of regularly identifying solid solutions and solving challenging problems for yourself.
#5 Always be learning.
Read, read, and read some more (or listen to podcasts or watch relevant videos). Seek opportunities to continue learning about your industry and related industries that will impact your field of practice. Keep up with innovations in your field and the technologies that might disrupt how you do business today. Whether or not you change what you’re doing, you’ll be in-the-know and better positioned to create a better method or approach for yourself. Consider the alternative — falling behind your competition and perhaps even becoming extinct.