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5 Tips to Make Room for Career Growth

“The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get the old ones out.” – Dee Hock, Founder and former CEO of Visa

The theme this month is clearing the path for mobility in your career.  I coach a number of mid-career professionals and the recurring theme as they work hard to move from a staff level role into a leadership role is that they want to bring all their skills, training, and capabilities with them into their new role.  After all, it has taken a lot of time and effort to acquire these skills, and we want to prove to people that we have them all.  While I admire the effort, it really won’t serve you well as you progress in your career.   Despite the reluctance, here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t try to bring every aspect of your past professional life into your new role:

  1. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. I realize that you can still write code.  I know that you understand how to post a journal entry in Quickbooks.  I also know that your effective hourly rate is much higher than the people who should be doing that task.  The reason you have been promoted is because you have more value to add to the organization that other people more junior in their careers have not yet acquired.  So please, let go of the stuff you “can” still do, and focus on the stuff that you “should” be doing.
  1. With experience, comes wisdom. As you gain experience you also learn tricks, tips and shortcuts for getting things done. You may not need to take every step you did while you were learning, or use every tool in your toolbox.  You don’t always have to prove you have every tool, just use the right one to get the job done effectively and efficiently. You should also use the wisdom that comes with experience to help those that are rising behind you.  If they can come up to speed in their roles faster you will look like a RockStar!
  1. Being SUPER busy is not a status symbol.  For some reason being busy has become a trend since the recovery began. People feel they have to make themselves seem constantly busy for fear that if they are not, their position may be dispensable.  As a result people revert back to performing tasks they “can” do simply to avoid any appearance of downtime.  Everyone I talk to says they are “crazy busy,” and while on the surface that sounds honorable – it’s not.  If you are always too busy it means you are failing to evolve yourself, your business, your people or your processes.  Stop the madness!  Take a step back, prioritize your day/week and spend it doing the most valuable stuff – let the rest fall to someone else, or let it go.
  1. If you are still going to do everything yourself then you really aren’t going to be a leader. It seems obvious, but you must have people to lead in order to be a leader.  Failure to learn how to delegate is the number one reason that newly promoted leaders falter.  It’s arrogant and silly to think that you are the only human in the world that can do what needs to be done.  If you are unwilling or unable to delegate, empower, train and trust others then there really isn’t a need for you to be promoted, right? 
  1. You only have so much real estate – you can’t “stretch” your brain. I live in a 1920s Tudor in Denver.  These homes have very small bathrooms and even smaller closets.  I can reorganize, reorder and stack my belongings in a number of different ways, but the fact remains the closet is still 3×7 feet.  There just isn’t room for everything.  My new mode of operation is that if I bring something new into the closet, I have to take something old out.  The same holds true for your brain.  Think about what skills you really value and really need in your current role, and let go of the rest to make room for new things you will learn to make you a more valuable asset.

Moving forward in your career is not easy and you’ll encounter a bunch of bumps along the way.  If you are interested in evolving then you can learn from those who have walked the path before you.  Clear your brain of those tasks and activities that no longer serve you and let someone else have them, while you move forward to bigger and better things!

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About Kimberly Lucas

Kimberly Lucas is the Founder and Chief People Connector at Goldstone Partners, Inc., a Colorado-based search and talent advisory firm specializing in recruitment strategy and engaged search for privately-held companies. As a seasoned entrepreneur and career coach, Kimberly is committed to helping founders build strong, profitable companies that stand the test of time. She serves as a mentor for University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business as well as Goodwill AVID. She also serves on the board of the Rockies Venture Club and is an active facilitator at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.