Opportunities seem to present themselves when you least expect it. Not when you are trying to seek out an opportunity.
That is why it is important to keep as many doors open. It increases the possibility of an opportunity.
Network with people in new areas. This can open the door for a career opportunity. Or the opportunity for you or your team to do work in a new area, highlighting the capabilities your and your team bring to the organization.
The best way to know if you have an interest in something is to try it. Taking job assignments in new areas on a trial basis or working on a project in a new area can lead to finding new passions and interests.
None of this is possible with an opportunity from a relationship or doorway you have kept open.
How many doorways do you have open?
Part of the improvement process is to ask, “What problems, issues or opportunities are there?”
This seems like a very good question to ask. A question that would get to the root of what can be done to improve. People start to give answer after answer about problems and issues. Notes are taken. Work is assigned.
Not until recently have I taken the time to look at the responses given to the question above. Closer examination shows a large portion of the responses are pointing the finger outwardly. We could do that if leadership does this. We could have lower costs if our customers would let us design our relationship. We could have a faster changeover if management would let us buy the newest equipment.
These are TRAPS! Traps that I have fallen into myself. Traps that lead us to try and justify new equipment that may not be needed or spend energy convincing leadership or customers to do something different so we can stay the same. In the end, the improvement isn’t made or it is not nearly as significant as it could have been.
We have to turn the question around on ourselves. Ask what can we do to help leadership help us? What can we do within the parameters of our relationship with the customer and still deliver on their needs? How can we get the same effect of the new equipment without buying the new equipment?
We can’t always point the finger outward. We have to point the finger inward and try everything we can to get where we want to go. When we do this well, we get greater improvement and others will respect us more for solving the issue.
Sometimes we get stuck in a rut. Always doing the same type of things. Getting bored with what we are doing and wanting something different. Too often we wait for someone to give us a new challenge or a new project or a new job assignment. This usually becomes very frustrating because no one else notices or can’t help right away with providing a new opportunity for us.
It’s not easy making your own path. It means extra work or venturing into a space we haven’t been before. This can make us feel uneasy and can stop us from taking the initiative. The only way to grow and take on new challenges is to overcome that fear and start making your own path.
Below I have listed a few things that have worked for me over the years.
- Create a Proposal – Determine what you want to do. What is the next challenge you want to take on? What experience do you want to gain? Then create a proposal to gain the experience or take on a new challenge and present it to your manager. Sell them on what your group would get out of it as well as what you gain. The risk is your manager saying no.
- Just Do It – Go out and take on a new challenge without asking your manager. Volunteer to be on a work team or to do a project. Don’t discuss it with your boss. Just take it on. The risk is managing your time for that work in with your other duties. You still have to meet all your normal obligations. I have done this several times and so far it has worked out very well for me. In the end, my manager is appreciative that I did the work and I gain the experience.
- Start Something New – Pick something new to start that would give you the challenge you are looking for or gain the experience you want. Two personal examples are starting a lean consortium in Texas and this blog. It has helped me achieve many objectives I have had.
With all three ways, you have to do some self reflection and understand what it is you want to do. What is it that you want to accomplish or develop? This self reflection is what can make it so hard to make our own path. Sometimes that answers aren’t easy, but if we are true to ourselves we will definitely benefit by making our own path to something better.