Get Ahead by Putting Your Talents on a Different Stage

Susan Hall

In a recent post, I mentioned author and leadership coach Robin Sharma's "50 New Rules of Work," including this one he ranks No. 1:

You are not just paid to work. You are paid to be uncomfortable-and to pursue projects that scare you.

How's this for a project that would scare the bejeebers out of most people: standup comedian Chris Rock's taking on Broadway. He told CBS's Harry Smith this was taking him way, way outside his comfort zone:

I was kinda lookin' for the cue card guy the first week of rehearsal. I'm like, 'Surely they'll have cards at some point.' Surely Al Pacino's not just out there. There must be a monitor or somethin', a teleprompter somewhere, right? I mean, we'll learn it, yeah, but there's some-there's some backup, right?
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But he also makes the point that stretching himself in this way means creating options for himself. As he put it:

Being rich is not about having a lot of money. Being rich is about having lots of options.

It's easy to think it's easy for a celebrity like that to get offers to do other things, but author and communications guru Jodi Glickman says you can make opportunities for yourself. Like the over-50 IT pro my colleague Don Tennant wrote about recently who was trying to reinvent herself, it's about taking ownership of the process.

 

As I wrote about cloud computing, with new technologies, many organizations are still feeling their way along, so volunteering for that work can put you in the center of the action.

 


In a piece at Harvard Business Review, Glickman offers these tips for creating opportunities to stretch yourself:

  • Excel-Take a skill you're really good at and apply in a different group or department. Volunteer for a new project or work with a startup or charity to get outside your comfort zone.
  • Assist-She mentions a junior staffer who took on the thankless task of being secretary to the board. She was privy to a huge amount of insight and learning from the board and gained access and visibility to the members and executive director.
  • Redirect Unwanted Work-If you're getting dumped on, speak up, Glickman says. Raise your hand for the projects you want and state your desire to work on challenging projects.
  • Network-Seek out the people you admire within the organization and volunteer to work with and for them.


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