When Michelle Obama gave her speech here in Charlotte last night, she said “when you walk through the door, don’t shut it behind you”. I’m sure I didn’t get the quote exactly right, but she was saying that when you move ahead, help the next person move ahead to.
I sometimes struggle with how to explain why I started my analyst coaching and training business and this really sums it up for me. I feel very strongly that I should help others be successful in the career they chose.
I have had (and still have today) some great mentors that have helped me achieve goals that I am certain would have taken longer if I did not have their guidance.
I also had times in my career when I didn’t have a mentor and it was very difficult to figure out what the next step should be to get myself through that next door. And believe me, sometimes I made mistakes or wrong decisions that kept that door firmly shut!
I use my experiences and the expert knowledge I have gained in my career to hold the door open for you. All you have to do is walk through it. Sounds easy enough, right? Well let me tell you something – it is not easy. Reading my blog posts, subscribing to my newsletter, joining the free training webinars I do, and even purchasing my training courses will not get you through that door. Absorbing the information I give you isn’t enough. You have to take action.
I hear people all the time say things like “work smarter, not harder”, “I need work-life balance”, “Do things the easy way, why do it the hard way if there’s an easy way?”. It time to do some truth-telling. You have to work hard to meet or exceed your goals. It’s not that I don’t believe in all of those things. I do think you should work smart and have work-life balance but there are times when you have to recognize that you need to work really hard to get where you want to be.
When I started my IT career I had 3 children, two of which were not in school yet – I think they were around 2 and 4 and my other child was in elementary school. I would do my “regular job” as a data analyst from 7-4 and then every day at 4:00 I would go over to the IT building and help the developers test the application I used in my “regular job”. I generally worked 3-4 hours each day in the IT group. I did not get paid for this time – I was a salaried employee so I didn’t get paid for overtime.
I did this for several months and during that time my husband made sacrifices to. He had to pick the kids up from daycare and do dinner, baths, etc. on his own with no help from me. He did this to support me in the goal I had to get into the IT department even though I didn’t have an IT related degree or any experience.
Eventually the IT group had an opening for a test analyst – I applied and got the job. So the 6 months or so that I did those long hours and worked really hard paid off in a big way for me. That would not have happened if I didn’t do that 6 months of really hard work. You don’t have to work “really hard” constantly, but you do have to know when you need to make that sacrifice and push your limits to get to the next level. My career continued to evolve and change and brought me to the business analyst niche.
Did my hard work stop there? No. I continued to work hard (but thankfully it was usually for less hours). I took training classes that were available and found mentors to help me map out and reach my goals. When you are looking for a mentor, look for someone that has surpassed you – you want someone that is already through the next door (maybe even a few doors ahead of you) so they can show you how they did it.
Don’t have a mentor at your same level – even though they may mean well, they can’t help you get through that next door if they haven’t gotten through it themselves.
If you are struggling with what your next steps should be, click here and sign up for a complimentary 30 minute assessment call with me.