We all have that one friend who is always talking about their career and how they are grateful for every second of it. And while we may not be at that point yet, take some time to focus on the little things in our careers that make a big difference.
It is a skill to be present in the moments that may feel unimportant or like time wasters. If you find yourself annoyed or viewing these moments as hindrances or inconsequential, you are not thinking strategically about your career.
Instead, take some time to reframe the moment. It will help you show up as the leader you are and ensure you slow down to make the most of the moment.
Here are a few examples:
We don't know where people are going; this introduction might lead be your future boss, CEO, or competitor contact. So send a quick LinkedIn invite and if the relationship progresses, find out something personal about them and stay in touch - even if it is just a quick note annually.
Extra work (that you don't want to do)
Setting boundaries is essential, but sometimes we end up with extra work. How we react when asked is important, and this extra work might lead to meeting new cross-functional partners, a boss that sees you can handle more or are ready for next, or a bigger-picture view of the business. Before you say no, think about how it might impact your career.
Compliments from someone in another department
You are getting noticed by people other than your boss - gracefully accept the comment instead of brushing it off. Building alliances in other departments build organizational awareness around your leadership and talent, making you sought after as a partner and ensuring big projects run better.
A chatty co-worker
Everyone does not appreciate the gift of gab until you need information, someone to present to a large group, or a friend at work. So don't blow them off too quickly; you never know where the relationship will lead or what you will learn from them. And five years down the road, they will be the first to call you back when you need something.
A complaint about you or your work is an opportunity to see another side. Instead of getting defensive, get curious about another way to do things, and get their perspective about what you could have done better. Even if you didn't do "something" wrong, you could self-reflect on your communication style, frequency, or collaboration. There is always an opportunity to become a better leader and partner.
A peer's promotion
What an exciting time, don't miss the opportunity to be happy for someone else. Now you have a partner at the next level, someone who will not only get new opportunities but may be able to provide you with new opportunities. I have seen so many leaders get promoted, and instead of organizations lifting them up in the moment, they sweep the promotion under the table because they don't want to hurt someone else's feelings. If you believe in the promotion, make it a big deal. And if their peers don't see the value and can't be happy for them, you may need to look at the culture you are building.
As you take a moment to reflect on the aspects of your career, look to create awareness around the moments that do not derive immediate satisfaction or meaning for you. I encourage you to find purpose in what may seem insignificant.