3 vital ingredients to fast-tracking career success

3 vital ingredients to fast-tracking career success

I’ve been in business for 30 years. Today, I specialise in helping leaders accelerate growth, and the most common question I get asked by the most ambitious, most impatient emerging talent is this: “How do I fast-track building a successful career?”

I have the answer. It’s very simple. Many won’t like it, because it is so simple. But I know I am right. I share this perspective from a knowledge bank of huge experience; of hiring thousands, and firing a few; of building, buying, merging and closing businesses; of serving thousands of clients.

Every single successful person I have seen who has climbed rapidly up the corporate ladder has had these three attributes in spades. You must have all three. Two is not enough.

Have a read, and then score yourself out of 10 against how you’re tracking right now against each (10/10 being ‘brilliantly’… 1/10 ‘a disaster’).
1. Competency

First and foremost, work damned hard at improving the core skills that make up the DNA of your role. Get really, really good at what your role needs you to do. If you are in sales, work with total passion and commitment to becoming a fricken awesome sales person. If you’re a coder, Aquent Gymnasium.

Spend every minute you can working on deepening your competency. Being brilliant at what you do underpins success.

2. Likeability

People do business with people they like. Bosses gravitate towards employees they like. Colleagues endorse co-workers they get on with. I know this sounds trite and contrived. Get used to it. It’s how the world works and how you get ahead.

Work on your likeability. Be someone others want to spend time with. Be user-friendly. Be sociable. You’ll get invited to things others won’t be, and get to spend time with the key influencers in your business life. And it will accelerate your success. Guaranteed.

3. Work harder than the rest

Yes, I know. Gasp. Horror. How can you say such a thing? Here’s the rub.

If you want to get ahead and turbo your career, work two hours longer than the rest of them, every day. Get up earlier, go to bed later. Work relentlessly on your efficiency and effectiveness. Get more of the important things done every day.

If you are delivering an extra two hours a day, then you’re a day a week ahead of your colleagues. That makes a massive difference. If you want to leapfrog normal career timelines, then roll up those sleeves and put in the hard yards. There is no way around this one.

Competency, likeability, and damned hard work. These are the three vital ingredients to fast-tracking career success.

Yes — you can do it another way, and be a brilliant, disruptive game changer (think Jobs, Picasso, and Trump). They might not have had all three ingredients working in tandem always (eg likability!), but they were exceptions. For us mere mortals, deliver three out of three, or always sit in the wasteland of mediocrity.

Harsh, but true. How are you scoring today against each?

More reading:

The answer to achieving success at work and in life
5 reasons why knowledge will fast track your career
How becoming an expert can boost your career


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Award-winning Australian recruitment agency, Firebrand Talent, ignites the careers of digital, marketing, creative, communications, advertising, & media talent. If you are looking for your next career move, check out the jobs we currently have on in Sydney & Melbourne.


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