What are you capable of achieving in your life and career? This is an important question that often goes unasked. If you are like most people, you find yourself caught up in the busy routine of maintaining the status quo of your life, and neglect spending adequate time looking at the "big picture" of what you want to accomplish in your life. Your career "potential" is what you are capable of doing and becoming, but have not yet achieved.
Tips for Achieving Your Potential
1. Find a career that fits your God-given design. You are God's workmanship (Eph. 2:10). God has chosen a specific design of skills, abilities, interests, personality traits and spiritual gifts just for you. Your highest career potential will be achieved by using the gifts God has given you. Work that utilizes your design will give you the deepest sense of satisfaction and the greatest motivation to excel. (See Mapping Your God-given Design and Picturing Possibilities for Your Life for keys to discovering the work that God has created you to do.)
2. Continue to learn and grow in your career field. Resist becoming complacent with what you already know. Keep up with the latest information and trends in your field. Develop your technological skills. Sharpen your "people skills" to become a better communicator, leader, and team member. Subscribe to trade magazines and journals; join your professional association; read books; take online courses, etc. Ask yourself, "What would a high achiever in my field know and be able to do?" Develop a list of learning goals that will enable you to become that exceptional worker.
3. Connect with a mentor. Some companies have formal mentoring programs which enable you to spend time with someone more experienced than you, who is willing to coach you in your professional development. If your organization does not have a mentoring program, you will need to be more pro-active to find someone who is willing to invest time in you and your future. Look around your company for someone who excels in areas in which you would like to grow, or see if there is someone in your local professional association who is a potential mentor.
You might begin with a monthly meeting with an agenda. Do your part to be prepared, and be respectful of the time allotted for the meeting. Express your appreciation for their time and input, and look for ways in which you might be of service to them, as well.
4. Learn from superstar performers in your company and career field. Who are the most successful people in your company? How did they achieve success? In addition to watching the star performers "in action," get to know them and talk about what they have done to get where they are. High achievers are usually willing to share some tips with others who express interest in them.
5. Ask for feedback from your boss and others whom you respect. We can only see ourselves from the "inside out," and therefore cannot see ourselves as others see us. Few people ask for feedback on their performance or suggestions for improving. Asking for feedback can be especially helpful if it relates to a particular task or skill. If you are uncertain, for example, if your PowerPoint presentations are as effective as they could be, ask for feedback from your boss and from someone who is known for her PowerPoint slides. Soliciting feedback demonstrates you are open to suggestions, and desire to be the best that you can be.
6. Make it your goal to serve others in your work. Most people in this world are primarily concerned about their own wants and needs. God, however, calls us to a different standard: "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Phil. 2:3-4).
While our human nature encourages us to focus on our own needs, God calls us to direct our attention to the needs of others. God has given you gifts so that you can use them to benefit others, and to bring recognition and honor to Him. You will stand out in your work when you seek to serve others rather than to be served by them.
Also, when you orient your life to be of service to others, you put yourself on the path to achieving the ultimate success in life by one day hearing: "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master's happiness!" (Matt. 25:21, 23). Those words will confirm that you indeed have achieved your career potential.
Excerpts from Live Your Calling (2005) by Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck. Used by permission of Jossey-Bass, a Wiley imprint.
Kevin Brennfleck and Kay Marie Brennfleck, National Certified Career Counselors, are the authors of Live Your Calling: A Practical Guide to Finding and Fulfilling Your Mission in Life. Their websites, www.ChristianCareerCenter.com, www.ChurchJobsOnline.com, and www.ChristianJobFair.com, feature hundreds of job listings from churches, ministries, and Christian employers; a resume bank; and many other career/job search resources and articles. They also offer career coaching and testing to help you discover work that fits your God-given design, as well as assistance with writing a powerful resume, interviewing effectively, finding job openings, and other aspects of a successful job search.