Career Link: The Secret to Getting to the Next Level

How often do you look in the mirror and assess your skills and abilities? After being in the recruiting industry for almost 18 years, I have found that people who have a good, strong grasp of their own strengths and weaknesses are much more successful overall.

On the other hand, I have run into many people over the course of time who seem to have an excuse for everything – nothing is ever their fault. I have a good friend, Dave Noe, who has lead many successful sales teams in the Twin Cities, who likes to joke about the sales rep who always has “the worst territory.” Think about it, we have all probably worked with this person during our careers. And who wants to work with them? It’s usually only somebody else who also got the “worst territory.” I can tell you from experience that I have seen many sales people go into underperforming territories (even the worst territories) and blow their numbers out of the water.

So, what do you see when you look in the mirror? If you haven’t really taken a good long look at yourself lately, try this exercise.

  1. Identify something you’re really good (or great) at, and something you’re really struggling with. Be honest with yourself.
  2. Start with your strength – how can you take this skill to an even higher level, or do something today that will result in a positive outcome.
  3. Next, look at what you’re struggling with – see if you can overcome just one small hurdle and begin to improve.

Let’s use the example of a sales rep who got “the worst territory.” After looking in the mirror, she realizes she is really good at managing existing accounts, but struggles with prospecting new accounts. So, armed with that knowledge, she can go out and put special effort into some of her better accounts and hopefully walk away with a good result. Secondly, she can put extra effort into a prospecting list (which she was likely avoiding due to past lack of success). This will force her to get out of her comfort zone and once again put her in a position to have a good result!

It sounds pretty simplistic, but sometimes just being honest with yourself can produce an entirely different (and better) result. So, before today is over, take a look in the mirror (even if things are going well) – you just might find one or two things you can take to the next level.

Bottom line:  Whether in your personal or professional life, don’t be the person with “worst territory”. Find ways to continually improve!

Chris Ohlendorf is the Chief Talent Officer at Versique Executive Search and Consulting, and McKinley Consulting. He has over 17 years of experience in the consulting and recruiting industries, and can be reached at