Make This Year Your Leap Year: 5 Simple but Disruptive Ways to Grow Your Career

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Welcome to the new year! Will it be any different for your career? If you do the same things as last year, we know the answer. You will experience incremental growth at best, not the quantum leap you may hope. Desire a different outcome? Here are five simple but powerfully divergent things you can do to grow your career and/or organization in the new year. Which one(s) will you implement?

1     Codify what You Observe in Your Field

Years ago, Jim Collins in Good to Great wrote about the “hedgehog principle” –the importance of being the one who not only worked hard, but looked around and made critical observations about trends, principles and dangers. His advice is still as true today as ever.

Application Example: My wife is a director at a prep school. As part of her job she reads hundreds of college admission essays each fall and winter. She observes that these letters fall into several categories ranging from being an immediate “turn-off” to “highly engaging” (and likely to get the attention of a college admissions department.) One particularly noxious essay style is what she calls the “Superman/Superwoman essay” in which students write about how “no one else would step up” to meet a social need but they did. Unfortunately, this type of essay comes across as self-serving and narcissistic. Over breakfast today, we began to explore several other essays types, good and bad, that could be codified and used as examples in student trainings, and in one-on-one student college counseling. This approach would not only help improve her department but could also be shared with a far wider audience of counseling colleagues, teachers, students and parents.

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