What’s the worst piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

For me, it has to be: “Keep doing what you’re doing”

Other than in the very short term, “keep doing what you’re doing” has to be wrong and therefore a dangerous way to proceed in your career.  Here’s why:

  • Things change
    The world is changing so fast that if you’re still doing the same things in the same way, then by definition you’re falling behind.
  • The bar keeps getting higher
    People expect more from you as you gain experience and progress.  Plus, others are raising their game whether or not you choose to.
  • It’s boring!
    If we keep doing what we’re doing, it gets old pretty quickly.

Some people like routine, but if you’re out to reach your full potential, you have to “shake it up” and keep learning and growing.

Instead, here are…

3 strategic questions to ask yourself that can help you advance your career even further

Am I still heading where I want to go?

We all get so busy rushing around that it’s important to set aside time at least once a year to make sure you’re still on course for success as you define it…and to make some changes if you need to.

And if you don’t know where you want to head, there’s no time like the present to start figuring that out.

What investments do I need to make to get there?

Just as it’s bad advice to “just keep doing what you’re doing”, it’s to your benefit to keep investing in yourself so that you continue to learn, grow, expand your capabilities, and it's especially important as you get more senior.

The worst time to get stale is when you’re senior, because that's when you're expensive and harder to move around the organization.

So take a moment to look ahead and figure out what you’ll need to do differently as you advance.

  • It could be building new relationships with external constituencies who will be important as you rise in the organization.
  • Or having more operating experience or direct P&L experience.
  • Or developing a new skill, such as coaching which can help you create a coaching culture at work plus make you an even better manager, leader and, yes, a better human being.
  • Or it could be as simple as learning a language. I know the Dean of a business school and the CEO of a growth company who are learning Mandarin Chinese to be more effective in their business.

Whatever you choose to take on, block some time and invest the money to get started.

Maybe even set aside an investment budget for yourself and insist on spending it before the year is over – that way you’ll be more inclined to take action, which is what it's all about!

Whose help do I need along the way, and how I can also help them?

It’s great to look ahead and see what kind of circles you're going to be operating in, and also the kinds of people you will need to be interacting with.

Maybe it’s developing a relationship with someone who you think could be a key mentor.  Or someone in the sector you’d like to move into.  Remember, it’s a two-way street.  And the key is to build those relationships before you need to call on them.

Be willing to give first and make sure you've got a lot in the relationship “bank”.

These questions are a great way to stay strategic about your path to career mastery, and an important antidote to the every day rush of our normal jobs and lives.

I’d love to know how you put these strategic questions into action.  And please add YOUR favorite questions in the comments section below.