If you want to succeed in your career, give it 100 percent. Everything you do, regardless of your status or position, lays a foundation for success later on. I've also learned that the more you do in your career the greater the impacts on your success. For instance, throughout my career I have learned the value of volunteering for extra assignments, such as participating on a task force or teaching a course. It's a great way for me to stay connected with other professionals in the natural resources field. Another lesson I've learned is the value of seeking out new ideas. I don't know if I've ever had a good original idea myself, but I'm great at borrowing them and applying them to my own situations.
What it takes to earn a position of respect and influence
If your goal is to earn respect and influence, I don't think you're going to get it. If you aggressively pursue power, it will never be yours--you can wield a big stick, but it doesn't mean you will have lasting effects. Instead, I encourage you to respect others and they will respect you. It is then you will have influence.
- Keep learning by getting involved! Whatever your field, it's very important to get involved in work-related organizations. Whatever your interests, look outside the Corps for good ideas, network with people to stay abreast of your field and take additional courses when possible. Caveat: Joining an organization is just the first step. With any organization you'll get as much out of it as you put in. If you just sit back and read the newsletter, that's all you'll get out of it. The key is getting involved. Work on a committee, help plan a workshop.
- Don't work alone. The only way to succeed is to work with others. If you succeed at the expense of someone else, the organization has lost and you haven't really succeeded at all.
- Share your good news. When you find something that works, tell someone. Give a presentation at a conference, write papers for professional journals. This will help your organization-and yourself-in terms of linking your name with valuable information. Information shared is more valuable than information hoarded.
- Volunteer for extra assignments. One of my most tedious and boring assignments provided me with vital ground-floor information about a lot of the environmental work the Corps is doing today. The experience and expertise I gained plowing through environmental regulations to help develop the ERGO Program helped launch me into the environmental arena and opened new job opportunities.
- Look in the mirror-that is who must take responsibility for your career. If you are feeling disconnected in your current job because of a lack of information from the organization, I would ask you this: What are you doing about it? You can't wait for information to come to you. You have to go out and get it.
- When you think you have all the answers, you're in trouble. In our field we have to continue to seek quicker, better, faster ways to accomplish our mission or someone else will.
- If you dread coming to work in the morning more often than not, then you're in the wrong place. I would encourage you to look for a different job.
Words of encouragement
Believe in yourself! Don't be your own limiting factor. If you had asked me 6 years ago if I would be an operations manager at Bonneville Lock and Dam, I would have laughed, thinking they would hire only an electrical engineer. But, I took a chance and applied for the job--and was selected. You're only limited by your own ability to see other options for yourself.
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