There are several truths we’ve come to accept about professional life. First, we learn that you can’t get experience without a job, but that most jobs won’t hire people without experience to learn the job. The second is, you don’t go to most jobs to be a standout, but to conform and fit into a specific mold.
If you found a better way to innovate the burger making process at a burger factory, chances are, you’d be told to get back to your station and do your job because it’s not your job to figure those kinds of things out. For a lot of folks that’s a difficult thing to accept, because we all spend time in the field learning better way to do things and improve processes, but those ideas don’t always see the light of day. In the cubicle farm, this is even more pronounced because the more wrapped we get into the internal politics of who wants what when, where and how, the more disconnected we get from the real world that’s happening around us.
Conferences and other professional activities can help, but they’re not a panacea. It’s incumbent upon those of us who want to grow to reach out and stretch our capabilities. When you feel like you’re not learning where you are, you need to make a plan to 1) adapt your talents to better extract what you need while doing your job well or 2) find somewhere else to be. Communicating your desire for growth is a good strategy in some environments, because good leaders will often put people they value in a position to thrive, but aren’t always aware of your short or long-range goals and how they mesh with the workplace. Doing your own internal assessments will help you better make a pitch with your supervisor for being positioned to do the kinds of things that’ll enable you to enhance your own skillsets.
Make a (belated) resolution
No one is going to advocate for you better than yourself. It feel weird to tout your own accomplishments, but you don’t need to be hawkish about selling your greatness, just recognize the value you bring to the table and keep a record of it. Try writing down one thing you’ve accomplished each day. Chances are, if you do you’ll encounter a few other things you did throughout the day, too.
You have to be invested in your own growth, if you expect others to see where you’re headed. It’s not the biggest stars that shine bright, it’s the ones that are closest to us.
Be your own star.