Career Success and Playing to Your Strengths

In yesterday’s post I shared an article written by Kristie Lewis in which she described her career success journey.  She discussed the steps she took to clarify the purpose and direction for her life and career.

After I published that post, I came across an article on the Gallup Management Journal site about playing to your strengths.  I thought there was some great career advice in this article that dovetails nicely with what Kristie has to say.  I’ve excerpted the salient part below….

If you’re involved in activities that you’re already naturally inclined to do well, your attitude toward work is different and you contribute more to your workplace compared with someone who may have similar skills but less natural ability. Doing what you do best is essential to being a star performer at work.

As an employee, you should ask yourself these questions:

Do I know what I do best every day?

  • What do I enjoy most in my day-to-day activities at work?
  • How much time do I spend doing what I enjoy most?
  • What part of my current role energizes me?
  • What were my greatest accomplishments in the past six months?
  • Can I connect my talents to my accomplishments?

Do others know what I do best every day?

  • Am I communicating to the right people about what I do best?
  • Have I gathered input and feedback from the right people on how to apply my talents in my role?
  • Is there a career path that my manager and I can agree on that builds on what I do best?

These are great questions.  Spend some time pondering and answering them.  They help you visualize your life and career success.  I discuss visualization in Tweet 12 in my career success book Success Tweets.  “Visualization is powerful.  The more vivid the image you have of your success, the more likely you are to succeed.”

Once you answer the questions above, I suggest that once you define what career success means to you personally, you need to develop a clear mental picture of your career success.  This image should be as vivid as you can you make it.  Try to create your career success vivid image in 3-D.

When I was 25, I created a vivid image of myself as a success coach, motivational speaker, management consultant and author.  I worked in my home office – where I wrote and developed the programs I delivered at client locations.  This office had a floor-to-ceiling wall of books that I could use for easy reference.  It also had a state of the art IBM Selectric typewriter and a big, clunky telephone.  PCs and the Internet were science fiction in 1975. I also saw myself having one to one discussions with senior leaders in a variety of organizations, conducting training and team-building sessions in conference rooms at their locations.  Amazingly, many of the people in the sessions were smoking.  I had very vivid images of standing in front of large audiences at sales meetings doing talks.  I saw myself signing a book I had written at a bookstore.  I also saw myself on airplanes, traveling to my speaking, coaching and consulting gigs.

All of these vivid images came true.  My office is much as I had imagined it – except it has two PCs and a cell phone, not a Selectric typewriter and clunky phone.  The wall of books is there – overflowing.  I’ve written 15 of the books on the shelf including my latest Climbing the Corporate Ladder.  People don’t smoke in my training and team-building sessions anymore and I use PowerPoint instead of handwritten flip charts, but the big stuff is the same as I’ve imagined it.  I’ve spoken to audiences all over North America, in Latin America, Europe and Asia.  I am a million-mile flyer with United Air Lines.

I’m living my career success dream – in large part because I dared to dream it all those years ago. What’s your career success dream?  Have you created a vivid mental image of it?  I suggest that you take some time for yourself.  Besides the questions above, ask yourself these three questions:

  • Where do I want to be 10, 20 and 30 years from now?
  • What will it look like and feel like when I’m there?
  • What will my life be like?

Ask and answer these and any other questions that will help you develop a clear, vivid mental image of your career success.  This is not day-dreaming.  It is real work.  You are designing your future in your mind.

Keep this mental picture of your career success with you as you go about your day-to-day business.  Every once in a while, ask yourself if what you did that day brought you any closer to your mental image of career success.  If the answer is no, make sure that you take at least one act the very next day to move closer to your vivid mental image of your career success.  In this way, you’ll be keeping your dream alive – and moving toward your goal.

The career coach success point here is simple common sense.  Successful people define what success means to them.  Then they develop a compelling and clear mental image of their success.  They heed the advice in Tweet 12 in Success Tweets: “Visualization is powerful.  The more vivid the image you have of your success, the more likely you are to succeed.”  They use their vivid mental image to help keep their dreams alive and to keep moving forward to what they want in their lives and careers.  Creating a vivid mental image of your success is not day-dreaming.  It’s real work – it’s the work of designing your future, so you can take the steps necessary to create it.

That’s my career advice on visualizing your career success.  What do you think?  Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success.  I value you and I appreciate you.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, I suggest that you check out my career advice book Success Tweets and its companion piece Success Tweets Explained.  The first gives you 140 bits of career success advice tweet style — in 140 characters or less.  The second is a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to to claim your free copy.  You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.

PPS: Have you seen my membership site, My Corporate Climb?  It’s devoted to helping people just like you create career success inside large corporations.  You can find out about it by going to http://www.mycorporateclimb.


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