The One Thing You Can Do Right Now to Be More Successful
The MPW Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question: What should every 20-something do to set themselves up for success? is written by Beth Monaghan, principal and co-founder of InkHouse.
It’s a fact of life that people are drawn more to the negative than the positive. Take TV news, for example. The only times we’re compelled to watch is when we’re glued to a tragedy playing out in real time. Workplace performance reviews are no different. When’s the last time you actually sat and basked in the positive aspects of reviews? Instead, I bet you hold your breath while you ride out the compliments and wait for the negative feedback to inevitably come. I always did.
When I give reviews to employees the same thing happens. I’ll be in the middle of a 95% positive performance review and end up spending a disproportionate half of the allotted time discussing how the employee can improve. This is not by my design. It’s just what always happens and it’s not entirely bad. Self-improvement is a worthy goal. After all, accomplishment fuels self worth, but we have to be able to see those achievements to be fueled by them.
It can be tough to cut through the noise of advice when you enter the workforce, so I understand the compulsion to focus on improvement. And there is no shortage of advice these days. You could drown trying to figure out how to simultaneously work hard, speak up in meetings, bring forward solutions, dress for the job you want, learn how to ask for a raise, etc. Blah blah blah.
That’s all good advice. But there is only one thing you need to do to foster future success in the workplace: know your superpowers. If you know your greatest strengths and learn how to wield them well, everything else will work out. When you know what you’re good at, you gain confidence, and confidence is almost everything when it comes to workplace success, aside from a healthy dose of good old-fashioned hard work.
So how do you discover your strengths? That’s where hard work can come in handy. You need to be willing to see yourself clearly, and to understand what works well for you instead of trying to turn yourself into your boss or mentor. Try writing down your top three superpowers. Are you fast on your feet? Or do you come to better resolutions when you have time to evaluate processes? Do you get resolutely passionate about the cold hard facts?
Writing this kind of stuff down sounds weird and it’s slightly mortifying, but when hard times come, it’s too easy to revert to your weaknesses. The balance between knowing your strengths and caving to your weaknesses is a little bit like the writing process. There is a fine line between great writing and over-editing. If you don’t know what’s good, you don’t know what to cut and what to keep. Write down your superpowers and keep them close enough so you can feel their pull even when they’re faint.
Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: What should every 20-something do to set themselves up for success?
The Common Myth Young Professionals Need to Avoid by Ritu Anand, head of talent management at Tata Consultancy Services.
How Millennials Can Succeed at Their First Job by Lynn Perkins, CEO of UrbanSitter.
What every 20-something should know about their first job by Cathy Engelbert, CEO of Deloitte.