The best new professionals focus on opportunities, not obstacles

This morning I was asked about the difference between successful junior employees and everyone else.  (“Everyone else” being non-successful junior employees, not seasoned professionals.)  Admittedly, I stumbled through the answer, spouting off enough platitudes to choke a horse.  But I gave the question more attention throughout the day, and I think I’ve come across a good answer.

The best new professionals focus on opportunities, not obstacles.  Yes, Corporate American is still largely a tenure-based system that rewards years of service.  But that’s no reason to sit back and wait.  And even though there may be well-defined obstacles on the way to a career goal, there are always ways around.  There are so many different paths from Point A to Point B that there might as well not even be a road.

Some people see opportunities while others don’t, and I think that’s a key difference between people who succeed early on in their career and people who only get as far as their company is willing to let them.  Opportunities like writing for the company newsletter, or volunteering in the corporate outreach program.  And guess who else volunteers in the outreach program, and writes for the newsletter?  That’s right: high-level executives.  Successful employees of any rank or station take advantage of every chance to gain exposure or skills.

So I think that’s my answer.  Opportunities, not obstacles.

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