By William Blades

Do you ever feel like a mouse on a tread-mill, doing the same thing over and over again without making significant strides in your career?

If so, remember that you must work harder on yourself than you do for your employer. When you do so, you become more valuable to your employer, clients and bank account. It’s not the number of years spent with an employer, or in an industry, that will move you ahead. Success is derived from how good you’ll become. After all, “potential” is a French word meaning—not having done anything yet. Let’s look at the factors* utilized to determine a good hire for a management-level position:

  • Interpersonal skills ……26 percent
  • Industry experience ……21 percent
  • Proven accomplishments…… 19 percent
  • Years of experience…… 15 percent
  • Technical knowledge…… 12 percent
  • Others/Don’t Know…… 7 percent


Interpersonal skills combined with accomplishments in any industry total 45 percent and surpass industry experience and years of experience (combined 36 percent). Interpersonal skills and accomplishments come close to beating the other three categories combined (45 percent to 48 percent). The study points out that interpersonal skills along with your track record beat doing your job the same way for years-on-end. Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, after losing to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2001 World Series, quoted Ernest Hemingway when the former said, “The way you get to be a good loser is practice.” Have you ever heard a ball club say, after winning a game, “It’s only a game?” No, the losers do. I hope you aren’t saying similar things like “it’s only a job.” It’s not. It’s your profession—your livelihood.

What is your incentive?
So if ignorance is bliss, why aren’t more people happy? Because they’ve usually settled into an employer/employee relationship of slave or mercenary labor—money for labor. How fulfilling is that? Almost anyone can do much better at gaining more control over their life, but if employers don’t invest in them, they’re stuck. Or are they?

I’ve met very few people who possessed sufficient raw talent and abilities developed to their optimum level. Remember how you felt on the first day of your first job? Do you still feel that way? That same excitement and motivation? If not, you must get that fire back before anything else will work for you. Having a passion for what you do, or want to do, is paramount to your personal growth plans and actions.

Next, seek the truth. Ask yourself and a mentor what you must do to move to the next level. You can’t blame your parents, your boss, or even the government. Seek the truth about your shortcomings and act on them. If you don’t act, you’ll be stuck. After all is said and done, more is said than done. True? Do more of the right things and your career (and life) will become more enriched.

If at first you fail…
Next, give yourself permission to fail more because when you’re doing new things, they won’t go perfectly the first time. How was your first kiss? First attempt at parallel parking? Your first sales call? None of them went really well the first time, but you got better with practice. Trying new skills will invigorate you. Just remember that some mistakes are too much fun to make only once. By that, don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself and keep working on the “new” you.

Finally, read more. Your brain is like a computer—you have to put data in to get good results out. Here’s the test. Do you wake up in the morning and have a neat idea pop out of nowhere? If not, you aren’t reading enough. Without reading, you’ll never know enough. The more you read (and learn), the more you’ll obtain skills to enrich your life and lives of others. Knowledge is power.

In summary, you must want to improve yourself. Ask your mentor to rate you 1 to 10
on these five basic areas:

  • Your passion for getting better at your profession.
  • How you deal with the truth about your shortcomings.
  • Willingness to fail more while trying new skills.
  • What and how much you read.
  • Your interpersonal skills.

Here’s a hint—you must score a 10 on the first one before succeeding with the other four.

About the author
William “Bill” Blades, CMC, is a professional speaker and consultant specializing in sales and leadership issues. He’s based in Scottsdale, AZ, and can be reached at (480) 563-5355, (480) 563-0515 (fax), email: [email protected] or website:


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