Saturday, December 5, 2015

How To Unlock Your Career Breakthrough

Do you feel like you have tried all the advice you've been given to move your career forward and you have not seen the impact you desire? Sometimes it can feel like there is no winning this career game and you want to throw in the towel. Don't lay all your cards on the table just yet - someone has been in your shoes and encountered the same challenges you are currently facing. It can be tough, but you have to stay the course if you will ever see your victory and change the game in your favor.  

I asked two women who I admire, and who have taken the leap to do what they love, to share the catalyst for their career breakthrough. These answers may surprise you, not because it is new or different, but because it is a perspective you may not have considered. Read their candid responses and ponder how you can set in motion the career breakthrough you have been waiting for.

Dr. Kym Harris
With so many of my peers questioning whether they are on the right path, or how they can make a living doing what they really love, I encountered a dynamic woman who was there once and now she devotes her life to helping others find their path. Dr. Kym Harris, President and CEO, Your SweetSpot Coaching and Consulting, has traveled the same route as many of us and shares her story candidly with anyone who has a desire to be their best self. 

Dr. Kym, a talent development leader, author, and keynote speaker said, "People often tell me how much they admire my courage to pursue the entrepreneur route. My response is the same every time I get the comment. Had I not been downsized I would not be doing the work I LOVE. I spent hours talking about what I wanted to do, but allowed myself to be chained to the trappings of my corporate job. Being downsized has been a blessing. It forced me to examine how I really wanted to 'show up' in my career and created the 'opportunity' for me to live in my sweet spot, and excel professionally. I could not be happier."  

Grace Killelea

Finding the right development formula for mid-level women has always been a big puzzle in most corporations, but there is a passionate leader who has taken the charge to pursue the answer, and now she is creating a pipeline of women leaders. Grace Killelea, Author, Speaker, Founder and CEO of Half The Sky Leadership Institute, talked about how something so simple can also be so profound that it can change your entire approach. Grace, who's latest book "The Confidence Effect" , said, "My career breakthrough came when I learned to ask for what I wanted. It was early in my career in the media industry and I was upset that all the men I worked with were invited to an industry conference and I was not included. I took it personally and was very upset. I went to my boss (a man) and started to cry as I told him that I felt he was unfair and I was disappointed in not being asked to the conference. He looked me straight in the eye and said 'Grace-you never asked to go to the conference...everyone else did'."

Grace went on to say, "I don't recommend going into to a meeting without your emotions in check but I learned a valuable lesson that day I asked to go to the conference. When I returned I asked to be nominated to attend a leadership development program for women leaders. Again the answer was yes. That program gave me skills and a professional network that helped me grow from a VP at a local cable company to SVP of a Fortune 50 firm. Learning to ask for what you want always requires that you understand the answer won't always be 'yes'. Ask for what you want, and pay attention to what you get. It's a lesson that has served me professionally and personally." 

Finding your passion like Dr. Kym, or figuring out the missing puzzle piece as Grace did, may be the solution for a breakthrough, but most times it is simply that we neglect to do the work required to liberate ourselves. Half the battle is in what you are saying about yourself and who you are saying it to. Tell your complacency that this is your time, then surround yourself with like-minded professionals who will support you on your journey.  Breaking through is no easy feat, but you know you are on the right track when you are engaged AND fulfilled, which can fuel you further than you thought possible. Dr. Kym and Grace are living examples of this, and you can be too.

Contemplate this approach to unlock your career breakthrough:
  • Be honest about what you want and whether you are committed to obtaining it. Talk with a mentor or career coach to gain a new perspective.
  • Surround yourself with people who will "love" you with their actions such as honesty and support. Join a meet up or collaboration group with like-minded professionals.
  • Give yourself a break from "work" to explore other areas of interest. Schedule time to invest in you.
  • Find the courage to build the career you want, one day at a time. Start now.

I'll never forget a banner that was in the hallway of the college where I received my undergraduate degree. The sign simply said "Time is passing, are you?" I read that sentence every day during my 3rd year and it gave me just the right amount of motivation every morning to ensure I stayed on track through the remainder of my college career. So I say to you, another year is passing, what are you doing to surpass your intentions? Take the first step and gain a perspective that will usher you into the new year inspired and invested to do what is necessary for you. 

 Stacey Rivers is an IT professional, mom, wife, and the author of the book "50 Essential Tips to Getting & Keeping The 'Right' Job".