This entry into the series of excerpts from my latest book, RINGMASTER, is all about taking ownership of your successes in the workplace. Interestingly enough, most of us when asked “What have you accomplished in your career?” would not be able to answer immediately. We hesitate because it’s easy to lose track of what we’ve done for the betterment of the organization, much less to strategically communicate how that accomplishment is worthy of a promotion or raise. Today’s excerpt introduces the concept of actively taking time to track your successes. You will find detailed direction on how to apply this behavior into your daily work practice in the book, which you can purchase here.
While acrobats, jugglers and circus clowns do the same act night in, night out, over and over, great circus folks never allow themselves to settle for a lackluster performance. They record how they performed (be it mentally or literally through video cameras), looking for opportunities to be even better the next time. In other words, star performers make it count every time!
This is a behavior that you should emulate in all your duties, especially when organizational change is on the horizon. You need to be documenting your actions so that you can look back to them in any instant and prove what you did and why it added value to your organization. Most importantly, it will show you how you can build on past performance going forward.
Why is this so important? From my experience as a Career Coach, I’ve learned it’s hard for people to retrieve accomplishments simply from memory. So when the time comes for a self-review or to reinforce to the boss why they add value (and shouldn’t even be considered in the upcoming layoff!), they aren’t armed with the arsenal of achievements they need to prove their worth. But those who wrote down their accomplishments have them at the ready to position themselves for success. But if they hadn’t written them down, it may be as if they never happened!
The other problem I often find is that some people remember a big accomplishment they worked on as a team, but have a hard time identifying what part of the project they personally took ownership of. If you write down what you are doing in the moment, then you can remember every aspect of it, including your specific contribution to the effort.