SEVEN TIPS FOR A LASTING CAREER

These tips are still relevant. Here are Philip Lagerkranser’s 7 tips for a lasting career: 

1. Choose your boss wisely. Your manager can be the single difference between loving your job and hating it. Don’t allow yourself to be stuck under a dreadful boss for too long; it can do lasting damage to your career. And don’t mistake a friendly manager for a good manager. A great boss isn’t your friend – it’s somebody who sees it as their personal responsibility to develop you, teach you and to further your career. A great boss is fair but tough and demanding, and will let you know immediately if you screw up. 

2. Learn to listen and ask questions. Everybody loves hearing themselves talk; it’s the ones who can sit quietly and listen and ask questions that you should watch out for. It’s a timeless skill, but most of us need to work actively on it. And contrary to what you might think, it will only get more important as your career progresses. All great managers know how to listen and ask questions.  

3. Learn to focus. With smartphones, email, text messages and flashing computer screens constantly calling for our attention, many people simply lose this skill. But real results come about the same way they’ve always done: by a person or a group of people applying great and enduring focus on getting a particular task done the best way. Trying to do several things at once leads to mediocre results at best. Read books like `The One Thing’ for tips on how to apply this in your career. 

4. Take care of your body and your mind. Many of us will work well into our 70s, which means our bodies will have to perform for 40-50 years. Thinking that you can mistreat your body while keeping a strong mind is a huge mistake. The two are interconnected. Exercise, get out into nature, meditate, pay attention to what you eat. And don’t neglect sleep, because nothing affects performance as much as sleep. Learn how to identify chronic stress early so you can address it before it’s too late.  

5. Self-improvement is not a myth. Two people might be very similar in terms of their capabilities when they start their careers; 20 years later one of them might be performing at a much, much higher level. You are the sum of your habits, so develop the right habits. Change doesn’t happen overnight — it’s so gradual that most of us don’t even notice it. But 10 or 20 years of tiny, tiny improvements have a huge cumulative effect. Intention is everything; as long as the intention to get better is there, it’s almost guaranteed to happen. Approach every day with the intention to do things slightly better than yesterday.   

6. Be honest with yourself. All of us have weaknesses, but what separates the best is that they know their weaknesses and they find ways to work around them, or surround themselves with people who complement them. Many brilliant people ultimately fail because they don’t have the strength to be honest with themselves. Learn to analyze yourself objectively and you’ll already have a big advantage over your competitors.  

7. Learn to love the unknown. One thing is certain: If you don’t do things that make you uncomfortable, you will not progress. A new position should feel a bit like you’re “in over your head.” Occasional stress is a good thing because it forces you to adapt and become better. As soon as you feel like you can easily do your job, it’s time to look for the next challenge. Build momentum, and don’t allow yourself to lose it.


This blog is a summary of a speech held  for students from Asian University for Women (AUW) in Hong Kong in June 2016.