You’ve risen to become successful because someone like a boss, friend, advocate, relative, coach, professor, etc. has promoted your value and ability to others. That’s great – congratulations. We all need champions and supporters. The more important question though is what happens when they retire, leave or no longer promote or support you, AND, you don’t know how to do the work required to get to the next level or maintain what you have?
Here’s how I’ve seen organizations “advance” people over the years – the company needs to fill a position or role and an employee who is competent, available and willing, gets promoted; the company or boss doesn’t know how to find new talented and skilled employees so whoever is there gets promoted; they don’t want to invest the time, effort, or money to figure out how to do it right; they’re just plain lazy; or, here’s my favourite, the person (your boss) wants to keep you in the role because you make her/him look good by doing all the heavy lifting and hard work. Think about it – if you have an employee that doesn’t challenge you, does everything you tell them to, is maybe even a little afraid of being let go so they don’t push back and cause you problems, why mess with that?
I’ve seen the above mentioned scenario play itself out many times only to have employees (a.k.a. – you) realize they have not done all they could do to advance themselves because they have been waiting or expecting someone else to do it. Yes, you need advocates and supporters to succeed, but, you must also do your part to ensure you are equipped and capable. What happens when the person that has helped you advance leaves or retires? You’re now on your own!
Are you growing and developing on a personal and professional level? If yes, you will advance. If no, you’ll likely move into roles or jobs you don’t really want or find fulfilling because someone else has placed you there because it’s good for them – not you. Worse yet you must accept what’s available to make ends meet, but not because it’s a job you want.
Here are some suggestions to help you take the long view on your personal and career success. Focus on these activities and you’ll be positioning yourself to succeed, but more importantly, grow.

  1. Discipline and self-control – what actions must you take, or behaviours should you develop, that make you more effective, valuable and sought after?
  2. Learning and development – What knowledge, skills, education or training is required for you to prepare yourself to be ready and appealing to move to the next level?
  3. Relationships – Who must you know or build a personal relationships with, or seek out as mentor or resource, to be considered for new and rewarding opportunities?

Remember, you are successful until you are not. Your future state, be it one of success, failure or simply living a life of mediocrity, or “good enough”, is totally in your hands.