Do It Before You Get It

More than ever before, today’s employees seem to be focused on getting a promotion. “Please tell me what I need to do to get to the next level… [or] make more money…. [or] get a better title?” Managers are being bombarded with these type questions all the time. If only that much time, effort and thinking would be spent solving client challenges…ah, there in lies the secret to success.

If you think about it, even the government (can’t believe I’m using them as an example) understands the principle of “do it before you get it.” A 16-year-old can’t just walk into the DMV and announce “I’m now 16, please give me a driver’s license.” No, first you have to apply for a permit, take a written test, prove that you’re 16 and then actually drive for 60 hours with an adult BEFORE you can even be considered for a driver’s license. And then once you’ve accomplished that you still have to take a driving test, actually driving with an instructor, BEFORE you can get your license. Hasn’t just about everybody been through this experience?

Then why is it that people like to come into their supervisor’s office and announce that they have a college degree, six months of experience and they should now be promoted? Did they forget what it took to get a driver’s license? First, you had to learn how to drive and then prove it to someone.

I’m not on a rant here, just trying to make my point… the secret to getting promoted or making more money or improving your title is this: Do it before you get it. Put all of your effort into performing at the next level and before you know it you’ll be there. If you waste time thinking about how to get promoted or how to ask for a raise your path will definitely be longer.

So how long should you expect to wait? A driver’s license only takes 60 hours of practice; I can get that in one week on the job. In the workplace though it can be 60 weeks or maybe even 60 months. The key is to stay with it, don’t stop over-performing. Be ready for the job when it comes open, having already proved your aptitude to your supervisor and others in the company.

Occasionally, companies take a chance on someone, but that’s the exception rather than the rule. And who likes to wait on a chance when you can control your destiny by just consistently performing at the next level? Watch the successful people around you and learn from them. Never stop learning and growing. If you get to the point where you think you’ve arrived, well, chances are you have—at stagnantville—and that’s where you’ll stay.