Today, there are more opportunities to grow in your career than at any other time in history. But with so many opportunities available, people can feel overwhelmed. They may not know where to invest their time for the best, most fulfilling results. I’ve found this to be the case for both people who are just starting their careers and those who are looking to grow their existing ones.
When I first started my tire company, it was a life-changing decision. I was choosing to break away from the comfort, perks, and reliability of my corporate job and thrusting myself into the unknown. While this kind of choice is commonly called “a leap of faith,” my business partner and I were acting on an opportunity that we saw. Our awareness of a concrete opportunity gave us the “faith” to take our “leap.”
Grow Your Knowledge Base
Opportunities like the one my business partner and I saw exist around us every day, and learning to recognize them starts with expanding our knowledge.
Read books, listen to experts, and exhaustively explore the areas that interest you. The more knowledge you gain, the more your vision of the world improves. Accordingly, you’ll be better positioned to see opportunities and seize them when they knock.
If you look at the most successful business leaders of the last 100 years, you will notice a common characteristic: They all identified a need they were able to fulfill. Gates and Allen fulfilled the world’s need for computing power, Musk is fulfilling the world’s need for renewable energy, and Bezos is fulfilling the world’s need for, well, just about everything. More importantly, once they identified these needs, they worked tirelessly toward fulfilling them better than anybody else could. They grew their knowledge and had intense resolve, fueled by belief in the opportunities they saw.
When we set our minds on growth, every input we receive begins to lead us toward greater knowledge and better decisions. Our eyes open wider and focus on the daily opportunities around us. I recall an anecdote that illustrates this perfectly.
In the early days of my career, I worked alongside a coworker named Jack, who was somewhat lazy and slow. He would often take around an hour to accomplish what I could easily complete in half the time.
One day, I said, “Jack, get the lead out” as he very slowly made his way up some stairs to the shop floor. His reply stuck with me (and still does): “If they paid me more, I would work more!”
Nearly 20 years later, as I was building my own business, I stopped for a visit at that location where I first started. Lo and behold, Jack was still there doing the same job — apparently, still slow and still waiting to get paid more.
We both held the same job. There was opportunity for both of us to seize, but Jack had been unable to see the path before him. Conversely, I learned more, worked harder, and got promoted. Ultimately, my path led me to building my own businesses.
For more expert HR insights, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:
Don’t Wait — Act
Never wait for something to be handed to you before you take action. Time spent waiting is time that could have been spent building upon an opportunity.
When you become aware of opportunity around you, you will more clearly see where to invest your time. As you get even better at this, you’ll find that the use of your time will change.
When starting out as an entrepreneur, I mostly invested my time in getting my business off the ground and running. As time marched on, I began to invest more of my time into the employees who ran my business. I came to see opportunities within my employees — not only opportunities that would benefit the organization, but also opportunities that could benefit them as individuals. I found value in the employees who not only did their work, but also suggested meaningful ways to improve things.
Start Paying Attention to Your Time Today
Become an employee who offers more value to the organization than just doing your job. Learn to see opportunity outside the box. Be creative, be calculated, and be confident in bringing your suggestions forward. The right employers will see the value in you for doing so.
In my eyes, the recipe for success has three key ingredients: growing your knowledge, being aware of opportunity, and understanding how to invest your time.
Paying attention to how you use your time today is a great way to start growing your career. Slow down and be mindful of opportunity around you. Each day has some opportunity in it — you just have to train your eyes to see it.