Roy Osing
09 Jul 2017

The simple secret to a successful career

For those of you who remember your philosophy courses, here's a syllogism which is undeniably true.

Individuals who step outside the rules of compliance get noticed,
People who get noticed typically have more opportunities than those who are invisible to those around and above them,
Ergo if you are non- compliant with the rule system of the day, you will get more chances to succeed.

An organization is a pluralistic society; it is extremely onerous to breakthrough the masses and get your idea and point of view heard. 

The competition for mind share of leadership is intense; everyone is looking for the career "fast break" that could come from getting recognized by the top guys. 

So breaking through the clutter created by so many people chasing so few opportunities is critical.

Is there a "secret" to achieving a breakthrough?

One thing is for certain: it's not by "looking like" everyone else around you in terms of what you do and how you do it; those governed by the rules of compliance.

Following crowd action won't get you noticed; it reinforces that you ARE a member of the crowd.

And being rule bound makes the common denominator of common behaviour larger by one - YOU.

I regularly counsel young professionals, and my conclusion thus far at least is that "doing what you're told" has been so driven into their skulls from their academic life that it subconsciously defines their modus operandi.

You are taught to know the facts of history; to memorize math formulae and to follow the problem solving methods prescribed by the curriculum. 

You are taught to colour inside the lines perfectly.

This sets up the false expectation that your success will be determined by how well you conform.

But exactly the opposite is true.

My personal experience taught me to look for ways to do things differently even if it meant breaking with tradition. Even if it meant taking a contrary point of view.

Even if it meant pissing off the crowd.

Leaders notice. They ask about you. 

And if they like what they hear, they pull you from the herd and give you a chance the herd rarely gets.

Get it right.

Roy Osing (@royosing) is a former President and CMO with over 33 years of leadership experience covering all the major business functions including business strategy, marketing, sales, customer service and people development. He is a blogger, content marketer, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead.


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