Success is a story. The story is always the same:
    1. There is a problem.
    2. You tackle this problem.
    3. You do something clever, brave, or difficult.
    4. The problem is solved.
You need to build up a collection of such stories. If they are good stories, others will tell them. The stories become part of the mythos of your company (or even your industry), and you acquire a positive reputation.
    Try to get assigned work that is likely to result in a good success story, and avoid work that is likely to result in no story or a failure story. (There are failure stories too. They are same, except steps 3 and 4 are missing.)
    There are things you can do that are beneficial to the company and enjoyable, but have no potential for a good success story. You can sometimes indulge in such work, but if you do too much of this kind of stuff, you’ll get a reputation as someone who isn’t going anywhere, who’s career has maxed out. Maybe it’s true. If you are happy doing your current job until you retire, go ahead and seek out “invisible” work.
    What makes for a good story? Things that are related to the company’s core business makes for better stories. People understand the core business better and care about it more, so there is more dramatic potential. The problem you attack must be important. There must be a real threat to the business or a real opportunity to seize. Stories involving hated competitors or strongly desired yet previously unattainable customers are always good. The work must appear difficult or risky, so that the hero (you) appears brave. It’s best if the project is a sure bet and only appears risky, but it’s not likely that people will be fooled. You will probably have to show at least a little actual bravery. Really, courage in business is rare enough that courageous failure isn’t punished nearly as much as people think. Go ahead and show some spine. After all, it’s not like you will be literally executed if you fail.

1 comment:

Kevin said...