Tuesday, October 27, 2009

12 Ways to Advance Yourself, Your Ideas and Your Career

We’re all trying to advance something.

Our self.
Our idea.
Our cause.
Our status.
Our career.
Our position.
Our initiative.

And it’s hard. Real progress is expensive and time intensive.

THE GOOD NEWS IS: Advancing whatever you’re trying to advance WILL become an inevitable consequence if you make yourself a more advanceable person.

Here’s a collection of twelve practices for doing so::

1. Be prepared to advance. That’s the decisive moment – when you choose to be successful. When you realize your capacity for action. And if you want to bring your plans and ambitions to fulfillment, you need to allow yourself to be carried forward. You need to make yourself available to surrounding forces. And you need to say YES to (most) opportunities.

Even if they sound crazy. Especially if they sound crazy. Then, deliberately generate movement. And then, maintain forward momentum. Will the constellation of your convictions shine bright enough to light the way?

2. Accelerate success – don’t create it. Here’s how. First, identify specific actions you want other people to take to help advance your idea. Write down the three questions you need to ask so others can help you can move forward. Secondly, act on your present environment. Constantly ask yourself the Ultimate Leverage Question:

“Now that I have this, what else does this make possible?”

Third, get ahead during the time that others waste. That’s what Henry Ford suggested to his employees nearly 100 years ago. Heeding his advice, I recently cancelled my cable. Cold turkey. No television reception at ALL. Think that’s helped accelerate my success? You bet. What could you do to increase your chances of advancing successfully?

3. Creativity is useless without innovation. Businesspeople frequently confuse these two words. BIG mistake. And here’s the distinction: The suffix “-ivity” suggests a state of mind, whereas the suffix “-tion” denotes consistent action. So, if you want to become more advanceable, you better have both.

I learned this in the fall of 2009, when I gave a workshop at my alma mater, Miami University. During Q&A, entrepreneurship professor Jay Kayne shared a powerful insight on this topic: “It’s impossible to advance your idea if you’re insufficiently committed TO the idea.” Is your commitment unquestionable?

4. Make an impression of increase. People need proof. And if you want your idea, cause, career or initiative to advance, you’ve got to punch them in the face with it. For example, do you remember watching those Jerry Lewis Telethons? According to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the telethon has raised over $1.5 billion since it inception in 1966. In 2009’s program, they raised over $63 million.

What are they doing right? Many things. Namely, making an impression of increase by constantly displaying a donation counter. Most telethons, blood drives and other charity events do this. It’s a great motivator, it’s social proof, not to mention: Success breeds success. How will you alert YOUR audience of your continuous increase?

5. Create a reason for people to remember you. Here’s how. First, be a handyman. Look for something broken that you can fix. Figure out what your customers are SICK of doing – then position your expertise as the key to NEVER doing that again.

Second, be a window cleaner. Help people see clearer. Brainstorm what could you take the mystery out of that people are dying to know. He who clarifies for others, monetizes for himself. Remember: The possibility of being perceived as inconsequential is a powerful motivator. Are you important enough to be remembered?

6. Your personal brand is the price of admission. It’s no longer a novelty – it’s a necessity. And I’m not talking about all that superficial, low-level pseudo-advice about how to “dress for success.” That’s not branding – that’s wardrobe. Branding is identity. Branding is what you’re known for knowing. Branding is who you were when you were seven years old. Branding is the best, highest version of yourself – along with how other people experience themselves in relation TO that self.

THAT’S branding. And no marketing book in the world will tell you that. (Except Stick Yourself Out There, of course.) Either way: Be branded or be stranded. Period. Be brandable and become advanceable. Period. Can your brand afford to pay the price of admission?

7. Be your own devil’s advocate. CAUTION: This next practice requires some ego squashing. Are you up to the challenge? Cool. Try asking Devil’s Advocate questions like:

a. Who cares?
b. Why am I even needed?
c. What’s the one thing I’m totally overlooking?
d. What’s the stupidest thing I could possibly say or do?

This process will humble you. This process will educate you. And this process will equip you with the insight necessary to confidently respond to future challenges. Are you willing to become the rock in your own sandal?

8. Stick yourself out there. Whatever approach you choose to become more advanceable, remember: It doesn’t matter if you look stupid – it matters if it’s one more tool to get you closer to your dream. Don’t let your commitment to creativity outweigh your fear of looking like an idiot. I look like an idiot three times a day, minimum. And I advance the hell out of my ideas as a result. Are you willing to look bad on the road to immortality?

9. Loosen the grip of the past. If you’re depleting your energy by staying mad at the world for not giving you what you want, you won’t have any resources left to actually GET what you want. This kind of attitude will render you unadvanceable. Instead, try this: Fire inspiration into yourself.

Keep the flame of creativity ignited. Keep pulling your triggers for joy. And keep moving in a transformational trajectory. Soon, the past will be a thing of the past. Will you back away in bitterness and confusion or leap forward into mystery?

10. Become a student of error. Monitor the mistakes of others. Learn what not to DO – and what not to BECOME – as early as possible. This will save you considerable time, money, frustration and stomach pain. As I suggested in a blog post called, How to Profit from Listening to Idiots, ask yourself, “Is there anyone else in my life that I treat this way?” This question helps you morph morons into moneymaking mantras. Whose mistakes are you currently a student of?

11. Keep asking, “What’s next?” Most important time-management and productivity question of all time. Period. The cool part is, it’s not just a question – it’s an attitude. The best part is, when you adopt and practice it, advancing yourself and your ideas will become mathematical certainly.

But only if you urge yourself forward. Only if you make imperfect progress. And only if you figure out where to plant the seeds of aggressive upward movement. What one step could you take now to start moving forward to your ideal future?

12. Display your own creative originality. Otherwise you’ll become (yet another) interchangeable mediocrity, fading into the multitude of sameness. Don’t be a cover band. Don’t be a fifty-cent color copy of an existing idea. Be the origin, not the echo. And refuse to allow the innovation of others to intimidate and inhibit you.

Hang your balls out there, bring your authentic work close to the heart of the masses, and they will surely support the advancement thereof. Or they’ll call security. Do you have the courage to bet on your vision?

REMEMBER: People trust only movement.

Whatever your goals are, start executing these practices today.

You’ll become more advanceable than a last place NASCAR driver high on PCP.

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* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!