As famed psychologist Dr. Neal Roese stated, “On average, regret is a helpful emotion.” It can even be an inspiring one. To benefit from our regrets, we must first be willing to face them. Then we can move on to articulate and celebrate our disappointments, understanding that it’s our capacity to experience regret deeply, and learn from it constructively to ultimately frame our future success. Every day your career path is being redefined. It’s your responsibility to act strategically and confidently to assure you are always progressing forward and doing all that you can to avoid having any regrets down the road.
The difference between creating career momentum versus being a victim of disruption has to do with many factors. Among them are
· The decisions you make (or don’t)
· The opportunities you seize or (don’t)
· The potential you unleash and leverage (or don’t)
· The courage you have to do what others don’t (or won’t)
· The capacity to handle the adverse circumstances that may impact your reputation.
You are the center of your universe. When you don’t create distinction, you’re missing a crucial step in defining and living your personal brand. Those without distinction will make up for it by focusing their efforts on delivering a heavy dose of self-promotion – rather than attempting to advance themselves by serving others.
Personal Branding and Promotion are Relatives, Not Twins
Personal branding is a requirement for success. When branding is viewed and deployed like a self-promotion campaign, however, the probability for sustainable success wanes. Unfortunately, personal branding has become a “commoditized” term that has lost its meaning as increasingly more people misuse social media as a substitute for building a personal brand in a desperate attempt to increase their relevancy.
Your personal brand should represent the distinctive value that you consistently deliver to those whom you are serving. Differentiating yourself doesn’t require any self-promotion. But managing your personal brand does require you to be a great role model, even a mentor that others can depend on. This is what helps you elevate your relevancy and advance your career. In other words, branding done correcting is “passive,” but effective promotion. A diligent approach to refreshing professional network regularly is one example of how well you are managing your personal brand without self-promotion. Ask yourself:
· Am I making my professional network grow?
· Am I making my personal brand stronger by associating with people that pull me out of my comfort zone
· Am I keeping my eyes open to seeing opportunity with greater clarity and focus?
· Have I lost momentum for your personal brand by getting too comfortable with those who no longer challenge my ideas or ideals?
Regrets have their place in career development, but the one regret you can’t afford is this: you can’t afford to be complacent.
Don’t Let Yourself Off the Hook
People who don’t define/manage their personal brand have one thing in common: they aren’t pushing themselves enough to grow and improve. When you stop learning, you stagnate. When you stagnate, you lose strategic focus. When you lose focus, you lose momentum. When momentum is lost, you fall into the trap of complacency and begin to take the path of least resistance. Sound familiar?
Having the winner mindset of being laser-focused. When you’re negative, your being pulled in a million different directions because you don’t trust your own self-worth. When you don’t push yourself to aim higher, you lose the right to have greater impact and influence. If you don’t value yourself enough, your stock declines as others start to devalue you, too. Reframing your current situation with a positive yet realistic scenario, will provide you brain with enough to focus on a positive outcome.
I often tell people to give it everything they’ve got for just one year and they’ll experience positive results like they never have before. Initially, almost everyone I coach is motivated – until they experience some kind of adversity and the game gets tougher to play. Some meet the challenge and are inspired to dig-deeper and find ways to improve themselves and their performance, so they can achieve their goals. Unfortunately, many people don’t have the fight to take things all the way through to the end. Unable to shake off failure, many become disillusioned and sit on the bench.
This type of person quits in the middle of the journey rather than having the courage to put their best foot forward and discovering that something greater lies within them. The people who remain stuck in their careers – advancing via small incremental steps (if at all) at underperforming organization’s that don’t expect much from them. Under these conditions, they may be perceived as a high-performer – but they are not developing any real skill sets that would be transferable to a much higher performing organization. As for their “satisfaction quotient”? It’s off the charts, but not in a good way.
Take It from a Boy Scout: Be Prepared
Those who don’t push themselves enough are not strategically preparing themselves to achieve their career goals and objectives. Preparation is the key to evolution and the enabler to avoid substitution in its stead. When people fail or get caught in a cycle of regret, it’s highly attributable to their lack of preparation. When an opportunity is missed, it’s often because you didn’t prepare yourself well enough in advance to be able to see and seize it when it comes your way. Preparation demands accountability; as such, it is your responsibility to strategically plan for your future and to stick to your plan all the way through to fruition.
Preparing strategically begins with the understanding that you never really achieve any level of success alone. When you don’t value the power of mentorship and fail to align yourself with those that can guide you rightly through their shared wisdom – you will eventually discover gaps in your knowledge and self-awareness. Your decision-making capabilities and instincts begin to weaken. You feel out of control.
Don’t fly solo. Find a mentor and/or a coach and learn to soar.