Some of the suggestions found in this book will be easier to follow than others, so don't feel you have to do everything. Some C students can succeed without a mentor; others can achieve their goals even if they don't take smart risks. The preceding chapters have each offered specific guidelines, recognizing that you're going to have to figure out which ones work best for you. Some of you may be five or ten years into your careers and have already found a mentor, so you may be more interested in other suggestions, such as becoming a purposeful learner. If you're a recent college graduate, on the other hand, finding a mentor may strike you as a logical first step. Howeveryou decide to proceed, the following checklists will make it easier to implement each of the nine guidelines.
1. MAKE THE MOST OUT OF MANY MENTORS.
• Keep your mind open and don't rule people out because they don't seem to fit a narrow definition of what a mentor should be.
• Pay attention to people who pay attention to you, who are interested in telling you stories and sharing information.
• Let the relationship develop naturally. Don't force yourself . on someone; get to now a prospective mentor and let her know you.
• Don't stop looking because you don't find a mentor immediately. Don't develop a C student's inferiority complex and feel that no one would be interested in adopting you.
• Don't limit yourself to one mentor. You can draw on different people for different types of help.
2. TRUST YOUR INSTINCT.
• Every month, take a step back to determine whether all your decisions and actions were made based on logic or if you occasionally acted purely on instinct.
• If you have trouble acting on instinct, practice doing so when the outcomes aren't particularly significant.
• Think about how you've trusted your gut successfully in areas outside of work; how it has helped you find your spouse, make good investments, choose friends, and so on.
• Be sure to listen to what that voice inside your head tells you when you're facing tough decisions such as whether to accept a new job, how to resolve a complex problem at work, and so on.
3. STRIVE TO BE A BETTER PERSON THAN AN EMPLOYEE.
Make a consistent effort to listen to colleagues who have problems, help people who are struggling and respect your customers, and suppliers.
• Do not fool yourself into thinking thatyou can have one set of values for your personal life and another set for work.
• Repeat to yourself that nice guys finish first; that though some not-so-nice people do succeed through talent or game-playing, they are the exceptions rather than the rule.
4. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY SERIOUSLY.
• Adopt a volunteer mentality and raise your hand when your boss or others in your company request help.
• Take pride in whatever job you're doing, even if it might seem inconsequential or you don't particularly like doing it.
• As tempted as you are to make excuses or find scapegoats when a project you're responsible for goes awry, resist this temptation. Resist even when there are legitimate excuses or someone else messed up.
• Do more than others expect—complete projects before dead-lines, conduct additional research, and offer ideas and con-clusions that require thought and analysis that go beyond the norm.
5. MASTER THE ART OF PURPOSEFUL LEARNING.
• Be especially alert for opportunities to learn from failures. Don't react defensively and tune out negative data, but make an effort to learn from failures so you don't make the same mistake twice.
• Treat your first few jobs after college as a type of graduate school. Focus on building your knowledge and skills as much it not more than excelling in your job. Use this learning to make yourself into a marketable commodity.
• Make an effort to acquire tacit knowledge—the unspoken truths about how work gets done, red tape is circumvented, scarce resources are found, and so on.
• Set long-term goals for short-term learning. Consider the ideal job you hope to have down the road, figure out the knowledge and skills this job requires, and start concentrating on obtain-ing them.
6. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF UNEXPECTED OPPORTUNITIES.
• Watch for opportunities that fly under the radar. Evaluate jobs based on whether they provide strong learning environments, give you the chance to develop skills that you might not get elsewhere, offer you challenges that you might not face for years at other companies.
• Pay special attention to opportunities that help you develop your creativity, become better at execution, and give you the chance to become a more effective leader.
• Don't rule out Opportunities simply because they pay less than you would like or require you to work for a smaller, less-well-known company than you would prefer.
7. SELL WHAT YOU BELIEVE.
• Recognize that whether or not your job ores formal selling, developing your ability to sell will give you an advantage over others who may have a better education or better connections than you possess.
• Sell honestly, not cynically. When you try to convince some-one of something, be sure you've convinced yourself first—do not sell products, services, policies, or programs you have seri-ous reservations about.
• Develop a selling style based onyour personality. Use humor, be direct, employ charm, or rely on you are. networking as befits who you are
• Practice selling regularly. Hone the techniques that work for you and make a consistent effort with colleagues, subordi-nates, bosses, customers, vendors, and others top resent your point of view convincingly.
8. GO WHERE THE STARS AREN'T.
• Be innovative about the types of jobs you apply for. Consider a wide range of employment possibilities, and translate whatever unique strengths or knowledge you possess into job assets during employment interviews.
• Look for companies that have a significant need for your par-ticular skills and talents. Search for organizations where you Won't be one of many similarly skilled people fighting for one job, but where you offer something different than others.
• Resolve not to overstay your welcome. Pay attention to your feelings of boredom or when you feel unchallenged for a sustained period of time. Accept that you're never going to be a star as long as you're just going through the motions.
9. BE A SMART RISK-TAKER.
• Be aware that C students must take at least some risk to gain significant rewards. If you play it safe and never sio.ak up or try something new, you will be giving up a major way to, gain recognition and respect.
• Determine whether you're a low, medium, or high risk taker, Take risks in accordance with your profile.
• Test your capacity for risk by starting out at the low end of the continuum. Ask for help and express a different opinion to begin, and then move on to more difficult types of risks once you feel comfortable taking low-end ones.
• Resolve not to let fear of failure prevent you from taking any risks. Accept that some risks taken will result in failure, and while these are not pleasant experiences, they can help you learn and grow.
Keep this checklist handy, especially when you encounter set-hacks and are confused about your next career steps. Odds are, at least one of these nine guidelines will give you some constructive advice and diminish your confusion about what to do next.
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