The Fortune 500 Insider Network is our newest online community where top executives from the Fortune 500 share ideas and offer leadership advice with Fortune’s global audience. James E. Lillie, CEO of Jarden, has answered the question: Looking back, what advice would you give your younger self about career development?
When I graduated college, my father encouraged me to take the job that would give me the experience I wanted while providing me with the best foundation for growth, even though it paid less than a rival opportunity. He noted that any pay was a step up from being a lifeguard and living at home, so really, there wasn’t too much to complain about.
The right first step, even at a short-term economic loss, helped give me the proper foundation for accelerated career growth later on. I needed to frame these early career decisions much like I frame investments in our business today. It’s about long-term value maximization, and not surprisingly, this often requires a little sacrifice and investment up front.
It’s not a single move, but rather a game of chess. There’s no next move if the current play isn’t executed properly. While ambition is a helpful motivator, career progression results from performance and delivery in your current role — it’s earned more than it’s planned for. In fact, 90% of the weight here should be on delivering, while 10% should be on considering the next move and opportunity.
Delivering well has obvious markers — such as meeting deadlines or giving a correct valuation — but seeking feedback and acting on it are also important parts of developing professionally. If you’re fortunate enough to receive candid, real-time feedback from talented professionals, translating this into action is a key driver for accelerating both hard and soft skill development.
The reality is that next opportunity might be even better, though different, from what you planned, and in my experience, that’s been just fine. I was fortunate to make some early sacrifices in my career to reap the benefits of working in challenging environments with strong professionals who accelerated my own career development. To date, the positive net present value on that initial investment and the path it has led to has certainly been fulfilling and rewarding. Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself. You have a long horizon.