Are you in the Driver’s Seat of your Career?

November 24, 2020

When people hear I was with the same company for 25 years, they assume I was content, complacent even…for certain, I didn't like change.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I am certain I didn't grow my career from an entry level position to an executive in the C-suite by sitting back and waiting for someone show me the way.

On the contrary, I was in the driver's seat with my career. I was in constant motion, taking advantage of every opportunity that came my way to learn something new. Listening, learning and understanding the “why” behind the work I was doing was just as (if not more) important as the hours I put in to get the job done.

What about you?

Are you waiting for your company to point you down the next path in your career? Are you doing a good job hoping to be tapped on the shoulder for that next new assignment? Are you expecting your boss to recognize your efforts any day now and give you that big promotion?

The most fulfilled, engaged and happy people I know are in the driver’s seat when it comes to their career. 

If you are ready to get out of the passenger seat and take the wheel as it relates to growing a long, successful, fulfilling career, here are FOUR ways to approach your work every day and FOUR questions to ask yourself in the process:

1)   Stay Curious: Are you learning as fast as the world is changing? Spend at least 10% of your time each week learning (reading, listening to podcasts, audio books, networking, meeting with a mentor, etc.). Be a continuous learner by asking questions to understand the “why” behind your work and remain open to the ideas and opinions of others. A learning mindset with intentional practices will be something that sustains you throughout your career. Download my Intentional Practices for Successful Learners here.

2)   Stay Open: Do you hesitate when asked to take on a stretch assignment or help with a special assignment? Even if it isn't something that sounds particularly interesting at the moment, say YES! Jumping into a new project is a chance to demonstrate your readiness for more responsibility and your adaptability to support the new needs of the business. It is likely that your boss sees something in you worth the investment and is watching to see how you respond. New opportunities also allow you to personally try out new skills and better understand what you enjoy. You may be surprised and I guarantee you will learn something new about yourself.

3)   Stay Uncomfortable: Are you one of the first people to adopt a new process or tool? If you are staying comfortable, you aren’t growing and you certainly aren’t showcasing your potential. There is a danger in becoming too comfortable too early in your career – it can stunt your growth. Many times I saw this happen, when senior leaders come together to assess their talent and someone on the team is labeled as “properly placed” based on one or two interactions. Be the first to adopt a new process or tool and push yourself through the change curve. This will minimize the discomfort of the change you are going to have to face anyway and it positions you as a change agent, someone who is ready and capable to help drive new initiatives in your organization.

4)   Stay Connected: Are you hiding behind emails and IM messages? Every time I dug in with a project team experiencing delays or unresolved conflict, I would hear, “I don’t know what the problem is. I sent an email...”. While it is obviously a little harder right now to connect face to face, the general rule should be to pick up the phone or schedule a zoom or stop by their desk. Making a connection, having a conversation is how trust is built…it does not happen through email. And, building the right relationships with people who can be a champion for you down the road can be a catalyst in your career growth.

If you want to stay in the driver's seat when it comes to your career, stay curious, stay open, stay uncomfortable and stay connected. These strategies will provide you with unique experiences, a more positive outlook and will position you to grow a successful and fulfilling career 💜

About the Author:

Tricia is a global business leader, author and women's leadership coach. Her unique corporate background gives her a clear understanding of the personal and professional challenges that senior business leaders face today. She brings real-life expertise around talent, culture and leadership to every coaching engagement and is committed to helping individuals, teams and organizations accelerate performance.

Tricia believes this can be done with authenticity and by staying true to personal values, beliefs, and leadership styles.

Contact Tricia at

Tricia Manning © 2024 All Rights Reserved.
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