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Doing what you have to do

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Early on in your career you excitedly join the world of work with bated breath, dizzying expectations and hopeful dreams. Many young people anticipate their steady rise to the upper echelons of the corporate ladder to be smooth and rather quick.

The actuality is rather a dire reality check; the climb is hard, steep and filled with twists and turns. This has resulted in many conversations with my clients where I have to reiterate the truth of: you have to do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.

It is my thought that the way corporate is set up, is in four levels: administrative, tactical, operational and strategic. To effectively move from one sphere to the next one must master the technical and soft skills of each level. The beginning of your career is the opportunity to get the basics right as the various levels require very different aptitudes. As tiresome, boring and redundant as it may be, you have to focus on doing what needs to get done.

At the administrative level the work may seem cumbersome due to the volume and at times redundant nature of the workload. It helps one to master attention to detail, acclimatise to routine and understand the granular details in running a business. Administration really is the building blocks of most organisations.

The tactical level requires prudence, thinking into the future and planning. Junior managers tend to be in this tactical level. The operational level requires something different, it requires a greater eye view; co-ordinating at divisional level, leading teams and being able to execute efficiently on strategy. The highest level of strategy which is the much desired C-suite level has a greater focus on strategy, requires visionary expertise and great leadership.

To really grow one has to remain committed to learning the skills, engage the experience and master the lessons at every level. As the mundane arises, day-to-day challenges crop up, it becomes more necessary to know your own personal why. By why I am referring to your purpose, reason for choosing to be employed, in your particular industry, and the company that employs you.

Every one’s reasons are unique and authentic to themselves. A few examples could be to help humanity, gain experience, understand how the industry works, network, learn about business in order to become an entrepreneur. Whatever that reason may be it is critical to know it and own it in order to focus on it when the days at work really are slog, get your hands dirty and are unexciting.

Each level offers you the opportunity to build your greatest commodity, your reputation. This will precede you for the rest of your career. Create a brand that will resonate throughout the various phases. Occupy the space you are in, change it, disrupt it, earn your stripes, learn, and grow. No matter the phase you are in, do what you have to do with excellence so you can do what you want to do with all the skills under your belt.


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