How To Make Tiny Changes For Greater Career Success

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What small adjustment or change could you or do you want to make in your personal in professional life?

By Rania Anderson (Co-Founder, Women’s Capital Connection)

The idiom “Put your best foot forward” generally refers to making a great impression. But, watching Aries Merritt — the 2012 U.S. Olympic gold medalist in the 110 meter hurdles — made me think of different use for the phrase.

In an interview with NBC, Aries credited his arrival to the top of his game to a small change in the way he starts a race. Rather than starting his race with his right foot, he now starts with his left foot. This tiny adjustment, while not noticeable to most people, changed his stride, allowed him to “run to the best of his ability” and win.

The corporate equivalent of changing feet is called a pivot (a term coined by Eric Ries). Pivoting allows a company to change direction by keeping one foot in the past and another foot in the future.

Coaching business leaders, I saw that it is usually the small changes – our personal equivalent of Aries changing feet – that most often allows us to leap over the hurdles to success.

So, what does the start of your race/day look like? What minor adjustments could you make to position yourself to win?

Here are a few ways to find out:

  1. Ask a mentor, your sponsor or coach what small changes or pivots they would recommend you make.
  2. Observe or read about how the most successful people run their race.
  3. Reflect on how you typically run your race. Below are a few common habits/behaviors that often need an adjustment.

This exercise may spark more ideas and help you think of slight changes you can start making today:

If you usually/always: Try:
Start your day by responding to emails… Creating time and space to think about your goals and how you might creatively achieve them.
Start a meeting, conversation or sales presentation by talking… Asking questions and listening.
Eat lunch at your desk or don’t eat lunch… Eating lunch at least 2x a week with someone who can positively support your career/business success.
Defer to others in meetings or in business decisions… Clearly expressing your opinion.
Work and interact with a small network… Expanding your network to include people who can be influential in helping you achieve your objectives.
Downplay your achievements… Promoting yourself.
Accepting outcomes that are less than optimal for you… Negotiating.
Assume that a goal objective will be hard to achieve… Envisioning yourself achieving the success you deserve and desire.

I encourage you to pause today and consider: What small adjustment or change could you or do you want to make in your personal in professional life? Remember that even if it is not noticeable to other people, it can make a huge difference in your success and where you want to go.

Like Aries, I believe we can all change our stride, put a different foot in front of the other, and leap over hurdles to even greater professional success. We are cheering you on!

This post was originally posted at The Way Women Work.

About the guest blogger: Rania Anderson is a Co-Founder of Women’s Capital Connection, a women’s angel network in Kansas City. She is an entrepreneur, writer, executive business coach and angel investor. Throughout her professional life, Rania has been observing, researching, connecting with and guiding the way women work. Rania guides women globally to achieve professional and business success. Follow her on Twitter at @TheWayWomenWork.