By: Helene Cavalli, guest blogger
Where would we be without a little competition?
Maybe weâ€™d still be working on Commodore 64s.
But Apple came along in 1984 and introduced the first Macintosh â€“ changing everything.
Competition forces computer manufacturers to continually strive to create something better, faster, sleeker, more desirable.
Some companies achieve great success and think theyâ€™ll be able to ride the wave forever.
Assuming consumers will remain loyal to their brand, these organizations become complacent and slow.
They somehow forget a very basic rule:
- The buyer rules.
No one wanted the Apple Lisa.
There is no obligation on the part of the consumer to make any purchase they donâ€™t want to make. In order to remain competitive, Apple was forced to think differently.
Failure led to innovation, which made the company stronger, leading to improved products that better served the consumer.
If a company canâ€™t compete, why waste resources on a failing enterprise when those resources could be used for something else?
But it can be tough to recognize when itâ€™s time to close the door, move on, re-invent.
Workforce competition operates in much the same way as business competition.
Often we hear â€œitâ€™s a highly competitive job marketâ€ as if thatâ€™s a bad thing â€“ a threat.
- The bigger threat is no competition.
Itâ€™s a buyerâ€™s market for talent and companies want the best employees for their money.
If you want to remain â€œin demandâ€, itâ€™s your responsibility to strive to be better, faster and sleeker than last yearâ€™s model.
So while you may be a star this year, donâ€™t allow yourself to feel too comfortable.
There is no loyalty to your â€œbrandâ€.
No company has to keep buying your service.
- And, you know what? This is a good thing.
Complacency is the death knell for any employee.
But if you invest time and energy into your career, you win. Take ownership.
Be proactive in developing new skills sets by enrolling in classes, joining professional associations, reading industry publications, finding a mentor.
Learn something new every day.
Periodically conduct a self-assessment to better understand your abilities, interests, values and strengths.
Look ahead and consider what skills will be needed in the future and how you can continue to contribute in a meaningful way.
Identify gaps in skills and determine whether you need to close the door on one career and re-invent yourself for the next phase of your career.
You donâ€™t want to waste time hanging on to a career thatâ€™s seen better days.
Accept change and be willing to close a door and move on.
Itâ€™s not just about â€œhardâ€ (technical or administrative) skills, either:
- Spend time on the â€œsoftâ€ stuff, too.
- Getting along is often a better foundation for success than technical ability.
- Strengthen professional relationships.
- Work on competencies such as agility, versatility, dependability, determination and collaboration.
- A good attitude is key. Refine your writing and grammar skills.
- Pick up the API Style Guide and read up on the basics.
- Hone communication and presentation skills by offering yourself as a guest speaker.
- Donâ€™t make the mistake of thinking itâ€™s your companyâ€™s responsibility to create a career development plan for you. Your boss probably has so many competing priorities that your career needs often get pushed to the bottom.
But, hey, weâ€™re all adults and accountable for our personal success or failure.
Competition pushes you to excel and enriches your career â€“ itâ€™s your weapon against any threats.
So be sure to look over your shoulder from time to time and listen for the footsteps of competition.
They won’t be far behind and you’ll want to be ready.
Helene Cavalli is a marketing professional for a management consulting firm. She studied Liberal Arts and wanted to be a sociologist. Helene loves foreign films, living in Philadelphia and taking her dog to the park. Â
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