Many people manage their careers by figuring out how to get ahead without actually earning it.
This confuses me.
While there are legitimate shortcuts to getting ahead (such as learning from a mentor, building a network of collaborative contacts), ultimately it really helps if you’re really good at what you do.
To be more specific, if you’re 7.2% better than your peers, you will have a hard time standing out.
Career progression is far easier when you’re 25%, 50%, or 75% better than your peers.
By this, I mean the average salesperson sells $1 million a year.
You sell $1.5 million a year.
The average software developer can handle a moderately difficult project over a month, and their code performs adequately with heavy user load.
You tackle extremely complex projects over the same time period, your code performs exceptionally well at scale, and it runs extremely fast.
The average consultant in your tenure can gather data, do the analysis, and present the slides.
You gather data, do the analysis, present the slides, and actually get the client to act on the recommendations and get results.
The average new hire will notice problems and bring them to his or her manager.
You’ll notice the same problem and bring the problem and a proposed, thoroughly researched solution to your manager.
In every industry, in every functional area for every tenure level, there’s a standard (or at least a perception of a standard) of performance that’s expected.
Life is far simpler when you exceed the standard by such a large margin that it’s impossible for others to ignore.
At best, your superiors notice you and grant you promotions and raises.
At worst, the process of excelling develops your marketable skill set to the next level — giving you marketable skills (to get a raise or promotion elsewhere) and long-term career security.
Commit yourself to excellence.
However, there is one exception to this principle of being "too good to be ignored.”
It’s when you have a perception management problem.
You present an idea and it gets ignored.
Your peer presents the exact same idea and it’s praised.
Clearly, this is not fair and not right... yet we all know that it’s true some of the time.
In this case, the problem isn’t a lack of excellence on your part.
It’s a lack of gravitas.
Gravitas is the trait of your thoughts, ideas, and proposals being taken seriously.
It does no good to develop a better engineering design plan if all the decision-makers refuse to even listen to your proposal.
It does no good to be a better consultant with your clients if the partner you work for perceives your ideas negatively.
It does no good to excel if your work is not getting taken with the gravity and importance it deserves.
In these cases, you want to work on your gravitas.
One effective way to do this is through my program on How to Develop Gravitas. It will be available in a limited release next month. To be notified when the program is available and receive articles about developing gravitas, just complete the form below.