Your Work Will NOT Speak for Itself

I’m still in England, had a wonderful dinner on the Portsmouth waterfront last evening.

As I mention frequently, I find inspiration for this career advice blog in a number of interesting places.  For example, I was reading an article about Robert Redford in the AARP Magazine – unfortunately, I’m old enough to be a member.  He said, “When I got into this business, I had this naïve idea that I would let my work speak for me.”  That made me sit up and take notice because I heard something similar just last week. 

I have been invited to do a career advice talk for the Women’s Mentoring Group at one of my large corporate clients.  I was speaking with the coordinator and she pulled out a list of things that often times are career success blockers for women.  One of the things on the list was “thinking that your work will speak for itself.”

I have been telling folks for many years that when it comes to creating your life and career success, there is one huge myth that can get in your way.  That myth is, “Good performance is enough”  — or “your work will speak for itself.”

You have to be a good performer, to creat ethe life and career success you deserve.  Actually you have to be a great performer.  But good performance alone will not result in your career success.  I learned this little truth the hard way.  In today’s highly competitive world, good performance is merely the price of admission to the career success sweepstakes.

Once I figured out that good performance alone wasn’t enough to become a career success, I began to study successful people.  I found that they all have seven things in common.  Successful people all…

1. …Have clearly defined the purpose and direction for their life and career success.  They have defined what life and career success mean to them personally.  They have created a vivid mental picture of their career success.  They have clarified and live by their personal values.

2. …Have committed to taking personal responsibility for their life and career success.  They take personal responsibility for all they do. They set high goals and then do whatever it takes to achieve them.  They choose to respond positively to the people and events in their lives.

3. …Are self confident.  They are optimistic.  They face their fears and act.  They surround themselves with positive people.

4. …Create positive personal impact.  They develop, nurture and constantly promote their unique personal brand.  They dress for success; they are impeccable in their presentation of self – in person and on line.  They are nice; they know and follow the basic rules of business etiquette.

5. …Are outstanding performers.  As I;ve said, while good perforance isn’t enought, it is really important.  They are technically competent.  They stay that way by becoming lifelong learners.  They are well organized; they manage their time, life and stress well.  They live a healthy lifestyle.

6. …Are dynamic communicators.  They have well developed conversation, writing and presentation skills.

7. …Are relationship builders.  They are self aware.  They use their self awareness to better understand others.  They build solid, long lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with the important people in their life by paying it forward – giving with no expectation of return.  They resolve conflict with minimal disruptions to the relationships they have worked so hard to build.

All successful people are pretty good at each of these seven; and really good at two or three.  Which are your strong suits?  Play to them.

The common sense career success coach point here is simple.  If you want to become a life and career success, you can’t adopt the attitude of “my work speaks for itself.”  As Robert Redford says, that’s a naïve way to look at career success.  If you want to become a life and career success you need to get good in seven areas: 1) clarifying the purpose and direction for your life and career success; 2) committing to taking personal responsibility for your career success; 3) building your self confidence; 4) creating positive personal impact; 5) becoming an outstanding performer; 6) becoming a dynamic communicator; and 7) building strong, lasting, mutually beneficial relationships.  I devote 20 tweets to each of these seven ideas in my career advice book, Success Tweets.  You can download a free copy of Success Tweets at

That’s my career advice on not letting your work speak for itself.  What are your thoughts?  Please take a minute to share them with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading my thoughts on life and career success.  I value you as a reader – and as a contributor to this career advice blog.


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  1. Good article here. I still believe for this quote.

    “Waiting isn’t a strategy. Waiting is dangerous to your career. The problem doesn’t come from the waiting itself, you see. Waiting is easy. The problem is that no one is looking for you.”

    Your work will not speak for Itself. It’s true.

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