In the course of the last 18 months, I’ve met and spent time talking to people in early stages of their careers, and peers that have been working for a while. One common issue that plagues people from both categories is not being able to fulfil the need to getting recognised in the office, by both their working peers and superiors.
I think the motivation for “getting recognition” is really important. Very often, we feel desire for specific occurrences without actually understanding why we want these things to happen in our lives. In this situation, our self-awareness plays a huge role in recognising where our desires are coming from.
A Reflective Realisation
Like many of my peers, I desire recognition in the office as well. I never really examined why I wanted it up until 7 years ago. At that point, all I could think about was how good it would feel to have positive commendations. So, getting as many positive commendations at work was all I really tried to do. However, I wasn’t hitting the right notes, and often felt like I was falling short. Until someone close told me this:
Adulation brings many things, but not greatness.
I was craving adulation from my peers and my superiors, thinking that it would bring me the next pay raise, promotion and new opportunity. But what I didn’t realise was that I was chasing after wasn’t going to get me those things. In fact, the harder I chased adulation, the more I fell short.
I realised that I should have been chasing legacy.
But what is Legacy?
For me, legacy meant leaving something that could stand the test of time behind. It didn’t need to have my name, but if it works and helps everyone else who comes after me in the office, then that’s a great legacy to leave behind. I started thinking about what that meant in a practical manner, and I came up with the following criteria:
- Lighthouse – It must guide others to a better situation.
- Foundational – It must define part of the organisational DNA.
- Adaptable – Others must be able to build on it forever.
- Longevity – It must continue to be relevant long after I do not exist.
Rules To Live By
With the criteria in mind, I started to craft a set of guiding principles that I could act on quickly. This is where self-awareness kicked in real fast: I knew what I was good at, what I wasn’t, and what I could do to affect others.
I ended up building my career on the following principles/rules:
- You are my Ally: I will always try to connect with another person on a level deeper than the average in the working environment.
- The Enemy is outside, Not Within: I will be the bridge upon which others come together.
- Whatever It Takes: I will aim to supercede my scope for the sake of learning.
- Impossible is in Your Head: I will always aim to make possible, what others say is impossible.
- You Will Get More Than You Expect: I will give you more value and eschew expecting returns.
Once I had those clear in my head, those principles immediately took effect on my workplace. It started small, with colleagues slowly easing into the mode of trusting me not just with work but with their personal lives. We started eating together, going out together and helping each other out a lot more.
Then it got big. People started to take Collective Risks with me: Pitching outlandish event ideas, picking tenants with higher risks, etc. I also started to realise that people were handing off special projects or tasks that required unconventional problem solving to execute. Whether it was closing six-figure deals or allaying a set of angry business owners after an unexpected air-conditioning outage, it was all coming together. Having rules to literally live by gave confidence to my co-workers and me. They started to adopt my approach to things, and they were taking the initiative to communicate openly and make connections on their own.
My Formula, but what’s yours?
The promotions, pay raises, bonuses, special dinners, reputation… they all fell into place after that. But they were suddenly not as important as the idea of leaving behind a tangible impact that would echo through time. I had figured out my formula to leaving a lasting impact: Giving other confidence through action.
At this point, I really have to say that this is only my formula, but it is not yours. By sharing this, I wanted you to know that it is possible for you to find your special something. In fact, after this 8 year process, I realised that it is only you that will be able to find your superpower.
If you have any questions, or just want to air your thoughts, leave a comment here or email me! No strings attached, just good vibes and thinking.
Until Next Time,