John Tschohl

Moving Up: Take Control and Get Out of That Rut!

By John TschohlJohn Tschohl

Are you tired of your job? Are you stagnating? Are you sinking into mediocrity?

If you answered, “yes,” to even one of those questions, it’s time to take control, to swim in the sea of opportunity. It’s time to move up.

Nothing will change until you take action. But it’s important that you take well-planned action that will move you up the ladder of your career. The first step is to be honest with yourself. Do a self-assessment. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What are you passionate about? What are you committed to accomplishing? And what are you doing to leverage your full potential?

Using that information, create a written blueprint for your life, one that will guide your beliefs, determine your success, and help you overcome your failures. Include goals that will guide you in your pursuit of a better job, a more successful career. Vague goals will produce vague results; make sure that yours are clear—and measurable. And develop timelines for each goal so that you can track your progress.

Most people believe in having a backup plan, but I don’t recommend it. Doing so would be subconsciously telling yourself that it’s OK to fail, that you will have something to fall back on. Winners think differently. They fall forward, because they know there is nothing to catch them if they fall backward. They are willing to take risks.

Attack each goal with determination and dedication. Successful people understand that dedication is a non-negotiable. If you are not dedicated to what you are doing, you will lose sight of your goal. As you reach one goal, move on to the next.

One of your goals should be this: Become indispensable. The brutal reality in our current economy is that organizations can’t afford to have mediocre employees. Indispensable employees don’t wait for instruction or direction; they figure out what needs to be done, and they take action. They generate ideas. They innovate on the fly. They create value. They are vital to an organization’s success. They are hard to replace—and dangerous to lose. Become one of them.

As you are working toward your goals, build a network of people who are more successful than you are. No matter what you are doing in life, you should be reaching up. That network might include your managers, friends, family members—even your clients. Ask for their advice and implement their suggestions. Their success is proof of the legitimacy of their advice; you would do well to take it.

You also must believe in yourself. Many people give up on their dreams as soon as they encounter the first obstacle. They simply do not believe they have what it takes to realize those dreams. They let the negativity of others drag them down. Don’t waste energy by focusing on what others think about you and your goals. Develop the self-confidence to do what needs to be done. Free yourself of fear and limitations, and you will unlock the hidden genius inside you.

While passion, clear goals, and dedication are critical to realizing your goals, you also must have the right combination of skills to be great at what you do. Planning, communication, creativity, and productivity are critical. So are time management, motivation, knowledge, and interpersonal skills. Make a commitment to investing whatever time and money is necessary to strengthen your skills. Enroll in classes and workshops. Read books on leadership, management, customer service, sales, and personal development. Become the expert on your organization’s—and your industry’s—products and services.

As you reach one goal, set a new one. Dream bigger. You can succeed; you can accomplish great things. The exceptional employee will be the driving force of the future. The extraordinary employee will challenge the status quo. The indispensable employee will move up.

John Tschohl, internationally recognized service strategist, is founder and president of the Service Quality Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Described by USA Today, Time, and Entrepreneur as a “customer service guru,” he has written several books on customer service and has developed more than 26 customer-service training programs that have been distributed throughout the world. John’s monthly strategic newsletter is available online.