Do you want to be a leader in your field or would you rather stay in the same job forever? Do you feel like your salary matches your production? These questions probably have one of two effects on you. Either your frustration level rose because you feel underappreciated or stuck in a dead-end job, or you felt encouraged because you love what you are doing and you are being well compensated for it. Take a look at this list and tell me where you feel like you fit best.
- You pour your heart out into your work, but you feel underappreciated because your compensation barely pays the bills.
- You have been working hard at you job, but you don’t feel like you are just going in circles as you grind the millstone.
- Your vocation is unfulfilling and you feel like any job would be better than the one have.
- You have the best job you could ever ask for, if only you made a little more money doing it.
- You are in the perfect place with the perfect job, the right salary, and you enjoy both your job and your family like never before.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of possibilities, and I know you might find yourself feeling something different, but try to pick what matches you best. Many people who are further along in their careers have experienced all of these seasons at one point or another. If you are fresh out of college, you might feel like there’s nothing more than the first season on the list.
Let me give you some tips that I am still learning. Some of them might seem counterintuitive but they make more sense the more you think about them.
Do Stuff For Free
This one is geared towards anyone who is fresh out of college or looking for a drastic change in their vocation. This is probably harder to swallow the younger you are, but you have to realize that as you start out you are like a new swimmer who is trying out the deep end for the first time in a pool filled with olympic swimmers. You have yet to establish yourself as a leader in your field.
While this is a good starting point for anyone looking to build a career around something they produce, it is also helpful to start here if you are picking up a hobby that could eventually bring in a some income on the side. For example, I recently filmed an instructional video with Aaron Shust. He offered to pay for my services, but I told him no for a few reasons.
- I have not established myself as a professional cinematographer. Why should I charge for something that h might not even like.
- Aaron Shust is relatively famous. I was honored to even be asked to help him out.
- I was able to build part of my portfolio with the work that I did, and having a big name in a portfolio can help a lot down the road.
- Chances are much bigger that I would be asked again since I didn’t want any money for the project.
Can you see how doing something for free can help you lay a good foundation to build on in the future? I am doing the same thing with web design. I am currently working on three Standard Theme customizations. There is a cost for these clients to host their sites and purchase the base theme, but I am doing all of the customizations for free so that I can build up my web design portfolio.
Sometimes the side hobbies that you have can turn into something much bigger than you could ever anticipate. If it’s something you enjoy, go after it. Two of my close friends have their own photography businesses. Both of them started out with photography as a side hobby. Hot Metal Studio is now highly sought after in the Pittsburgh area for everything from weddings to family photo shoots. Rachel Rowland Photography stared as an understudy of Hot Metal Studio and is now working to become a top choice for Pittsburgh Wedding Photography.
Do More Than What Is Expected
If you want to move ahead, you have to go above and beyond what is required of you. Nothing shows that you deserve a second chance, a closer look, a job offer, more opportunities, or a promotion than going beyond your job description and exceeding the expectations that people have of you. To use a baseball metaphor, knock every pitch out of the park.
If you are consistently breaking through the ceiling of your role, your job is not going to be able to contain you. You will either move up in your current company, or you will be sought after by other companies that might realize your potential better. If you don’t have the drive for greatness in everything that you do, you are not going to go much further than you already are.
Become The Go-To Person
This tip is built on top of the other two. When you do things for free, building up a portfolio, and go above and beyond expectations, people will start seeking you out. If you make yourself the best there is at something, people will look for you to do that something for them. There is no set path to becoming the go-to person in any field, but it must include excellence. That is something you will have to work out on your own with the help of mentors.
Where Am I?
In the past, I have often written out of struggles. I have been frustrated with my job or leadership. I have wondered why I was doing what I was doing. Those feelings are not what this post is written out of. This post is written out of a desire to help anyone move ahead into roles of leadership. I am in a position of leadership over teams of volunteers in the production tech world of my church right now. Some day I would like to have a broader role, but I will not get there if I am stagnant and not growing in my current role. I want to knock it out of the park. I want people to come to me when looking for tip in their own leadership. That’s why I am working on these same things.