If you wanted to run a marathon, you could get up out of your chair right this minute, step outside and start running. Eventually, you may well manage to hit your 26 (and a bit) miles. But it’s bound to go much better if you prepare a little. Create a training plan, take a good look at your diet and map out some suitable routes. Maybe get a new pair of trainers, too.
Likewise, work hard and a promotion may well come your way eventually. But if you want to get there a little faster, it’s time to get into shape.
First ask yourself – are you ready for it? Perhaps, in marathon-running terms, you don’t have the stamina or the muscles for it quite yet. Without the right skills, that job you want is unlikely to go very well: the deep end is no place to start a race. So, get to work on plugging the gaps. Sign up for training programmes. Ask about funding for professional qualifications. And, if your employer won’t or can’t give you training, look at your options outside the workplace. It won’t just help you prepare for the next job, it also sends a signal that you’re willing to learn and improve.
You may think that a good strong pair of sharp elbows should be top of your equipment pile. After all, only the ruthless survive in this dog-eat-dog world. It’s true that marathons can be competitive affairs, but if you get to the front by shoving others out of the way, you’ll soon be found out. Your drive and thirst for progression may be evident for your boss to see, but chances are that he or she will also note the trail of disgruntled colleagues in your wake.
Instead, think about the kind of behaviours that will get you noticed for the right reasons. Working hard and well with others. Being constructive in the face of issues. Supporting your colleagues. Listening to useful suggestions, wherever they might come from. Sharing the credit and taking the blame when either are deserved. Much of it is obvious, but a lot of promotion-worthy behaviours are easier said than done.
If you’re really serious about going the distance, then an experienced coach can get you there: helping you identify the skills you need, develop the behaviours that make a difference and set the kind of goals that will lead you to your finish line.
26 (and a bit) miles can seem like an awful long way to go on your own!