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Who isn't a little curious about what a successful professional does differently than the average person?


It's not about what they do with their money. It's how they approach their careers.

Passenger Or Pilot: Which One Are You?

It's easy to think we are all doing what we can to take control of our careers. However, this article points out a misconception some people have: thinking they lack control over certain aspects of their career. Or worse, not even bothering to try to take control.

In our careers, we are either a:

A) Passenger - an employee held hostage by golden handcuffs.

B) Pilot - a business-of-one who is in charge of our destiny.

I can see why being a passenger in your career might be attractive. You get to leave the scary, intense work of navigating to the pilot. But, is that what you really want? Currently, I'm seeing a shift in our workforce's mentality.

More and more people are seeking professional emancipation as part of the natural evolution of the employee. They are tired of being a passenger and want to learn how to become the pilot of their career. That being said, here are seven tips for those seeking to become an ultra-successful professional.

1. Realize You're A Business-Of-One

Successful professional man

Your career has equity. Recognize it and start to determine how to use it to your advantage.

Inventory your assets as a professional and determine who is willing to pay top-dollar for them. If you don't have valuable skill sets that are in-demand, start acquiring some.

2. Always Look To Gain An Advantage In Your Business Dealings

Successful professional woman talks to a work colleague

You must negotiate with employers. Don't take what is given to you without a discussion. An employer is a customer who is always looking for the best deal, and you're the business-of-one providing a service for them. You want to do business with a customer willing to pay for the quality of work you provide.

Learn to effectively negotiate salary, perks, and other benefits so you feel good about the partnership. You don't work "for" an employer. You work "with" an employer.

3. Do Things Well

Professional man works hard to be successful

Remember that doing things well is more important than doing new things.

Get focused on building your expertise and understanding how you are the aspirin to an employer's pain. You must be great at a few things, rather than okay at a bunch of things. What is your specialty as a business-of-one?

4. Work With People Who Are Smarter Than You

Successful woman claps after a presentation

Look for the smartest people you can work with. Find companies you admire and respect. Not for their pay and benefits package, but for the kind of products or services they deliver.

You must seek your professional tribe and partner with them to up your career game.

5. Get Clear On Your Employer's Goals, Needs, And Business Intentions

Successful professionals in a meeting

Want to do better in your career? Don't be so self-centered. It's not about your needs and wants.

Instead, focus on the needs, wants, and business objectives of the people you are partnering with. You'll be able to offer more value and get more in return if you do. They are your customer. Exceed their expectations and you'll have them eating out of your hand.

6. Be In A Position To Walk Away When The Situation Isn't Right

Older professional woman thinking about her career success

Get yourself in a financial position that enables you to quit a job and survive without income for one year. Every job is temporary. You may lose a job. You may want to leave a job. In either case, having the security of savings will give you the power to make the best decisions for your business-of-one.

Who wants to stay in a bad situation just for the money? Ask anyone who held on to a life-sucking job only to get laid off how that worked for them. They'll tell you they wish they could have left at the first sign of trouble.

7. Realize You Need Experiences And Setbacks To Move Forward

Successful professional man holding a tablet

There is no real failure. We experience, learn, and grow. Stop playing it safe and start embracing your fear. As the old saying goes, "Life begins where your comfort zone ends." You will not survive and thrive in your career if you don't constantly learn new things.

Making mistakes teaches us what not to do. That's a good thing! Stop worrying about what others think and start worrying about what will happen if you don't take control.

How are you taking ownership of your career? What other tips can you share for becoming an ultra-successful professional?


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This post was originally published at an earlier date.

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