The answer to building career success is simple.

Well, in my view anyway. Let’s see if you agree. I share this perspective from a knowledge bank of 30 years of ‘in the trenches’ experience; of hiring, mentoring, and coaching thousands, of building, buying, merging and closing businesses, and of farewelling many under-achievers.

Every single ‘successful’ person I have seen who has climbed rapidly up the corporate ladder has had these three attributes in spades. You must have all three. Two is not enough. Have a read, and then score yourself out of 10 against how you’re tracking right now against each (10/10 being ‘brilliantly’ and 1/10 ‘an unmitigated disaster’).

Here they are:

1. Competency

First and foremost, work damned hard at improving the core skills that make up the DNA of your role. Get really, really good at what your role needs you to do. If you're in accounting, work with passion and commitment to becoming a fricken awesome accountant. Spend every minute you can working on deepening your competency. Being brilliant at what you do every day underpins success. Work on your competency!

2. Likeability

People do business with people they like. Bosses gravitate towards employees they like. Colleagues endorse co-workers they get on with. I know this sounds trite. We have to get used to it. It’s human nature. It’s how the world works and how you get ahead. Work on your likeability. Be someone others want to spend time with - not something I have always excelled at! Be user-friendly. Be sociable. You’ll get invited to things others won’t be, and get to spend time with the key influencers in your business life. And it will accelerate your success. Guaranteed.

3. Work Harder Than The Rest

Yes, I know. Gasp. Horror. How can you say such a thing? Here’s the rub. If you want to get ahead, work say two hours longer than the rest, every day. Get up earlier, go to bed later. Work relentlessly on your efficiency and effectiveness. If you are delivering an extra two hours a day, then you’re a day a week ahead of your colleagues and competitors. That makes a massive difference. If you want to leapfrog normal career timelines, then roll up those sleeves and put in the hard yards. There is no way around this one. In my career I was never the smartest or most talented. I do reckon though that I consistently - week in, week out, month in, month out, year in, year out, decade in, decade out - worked harder than most others. And it paid off for me. Regrets? A few. But in truth, I LOVED it (and am loving it.)

Competency, likeability and damned hard work.

These are the three vital ingredients to fast-tracking career success. Yes – you can do it another way, and be a brilliant, disruptive game changer (think Jobs, Picasso). They might not have had all three ingredients working in tandem always, but they were exceptions. For us mere mortals, deliver three out of three, or always sit in the wasteland of mediocrity.

Harsh, but true. How are you scoring today against each?


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