Are you just showing up at work to get a paycheck? Or do you make every day count?
Just showing up and punching the clock (figuratively, that is) isn’t enough. Especially when work is being outsourced and there are people who are willing to do your job for much less. You have to put in that little extra something to stand out in the crowd.
Regular people just want to be useful at work. EDGY people want to be indispensable. That’s how promotions and longevity happen. When you are awesome.
Here are 11 ways for you to be a complete badass. You can try them all at once, but I recommend spreading them out over the course of the next few weeks. Subtle change is always better than abrupt change. It’s a momentum play, after all. Start slow. Build your way to awesome. Find your favorite thing. Then do it.
One thing for one week. Then add another thing next week. Whatever you do, don’t do nothing:
1. Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.
Maybe this isn’t the job you dreamed of as a freshly minted college graduate, still smelling of textbooks and late-night parties. But it’s a job. A start. An opportunity. A chance. Even if you dread every second, you still have to do it. Bills need to be paid. Tasks need to be done. Change your attitude about it. Even if you have to fake it.
Wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and say, “I love my job!” It may not change your life overnight. And, honestly, you may never actually “love” the job you’re doing, but your attitude will change, and it will seem like you love it. Which will make you more approachable, more promotable, and more invaluable.
2. Attitude really is everything, Sunshine.
Attitude is so important I’m mentioning it twice. Be the morning person. And the afternoon person. Every office has that one person who makes it seem sunny even in a thunderstorm. Be that person. You may not always feel “great,” but nobody has to know.
Keep your personal problems personal. Don’t bring them to work with you. Don’t bring down the morale of the office by complaining about things you don’t like or things that are “wrong with the system”. Instead, find a way to look on the bright side. “At least the coffee is fresh,” or “Could be worse, we could still be sleeping on our parent’s couch looking for jobs on Craigslist.” Don’t be the office downer. Instead, be the one they nickname, “Sunshine.”
3. Be a jack of all trades and a master of one.
What is it that you know a lot about or that you are really good at? Figure out what your expertise is or should be and become the office go-to for it. Do you have a photographic memory? Can you solve problems with little or no aggravation? Maybe you are one of the only two people in the office great at accounting.
Figure out what’s important in your workplace and which one of those things you excel at and continue to excel. Make sure everyone knows that if they need help with your “thing” that you are the one they should seek out. But don’t limit yourself to just that one. Learn how to do a little bit of everything. But make sure you kick ass at your thing.
4. You’ve got the inch. Go ahead and show them the mile.
You can do just the bare minimum and go home each day. Or you can put in the extra time and effort. Show your superiors that their problems are your problems, too and you want to help. If you know there is an office project and you have an idea that you think will help or speed up the process, take the initiative to share it with the higher-ups.
Even if they don’t throw you a parade and give you the credit, they will remember your name the next time a big project rolls around. And when the downsize list gets thrown on their desk, they will know who they are not willing to let go. Fight for inches of progress in what you are doing and then turn up the heat. Make those inches a mile of awesomeness.
5. Don’t just help the coaches. You have to play on the team.
It doesn’t matter what position you hold, if you are the one that everybody looks to when it’s time to do projects or brainstorm ideas, you are already winning.
Anybody can be a boss, but it takes a special person to be a leader. You are with the same people for 40+ hours a week. Even if you aren’t in a supervisory role (yet), if you are a team player, it won’t be long until someone notices that you are the one calling the shots even on the smallest playing field and they will want to draft you to the big leagues. Work hard. Stop fighting for a title and lead. Make progress. Not excuses.
6. Twenty minutes a day keeps the job hunt away.
Don’t be that guy or gal who shows up five minutes late and leaves five minutes early. Instead, be the one that shows up ten minutes early and leaves ten minutes later than everyone else. Not rushing to start your day has mental benefits of its own.
It will make you seem calmer and put together. Plus, being there when the boss walks in is the beginning of forming a lasting professional relationship. He may not know your name yet, but he will know your face. And when it comes time to fill that position next to his desk, he will remember that you were the first in and the last out. You’ve only added a few extra minutes to your day. And you didn’t have to get caught in rush hour. That in itself is a win.
7. Flap your wings, butterfly.
Sometimes the smallest gestures can mean the most to someone. Is there someone in the office or a client with special circumstances? Maybe you have a deaf coworker or a client who isn’t fluent in English just yet. If you’ve ever had the notion to take a second language, now would be that time. Sign up for a weekly sign language class or download a foreign language app on your phone.
The look on their face will be priceless when they see that someone cared enough to even attempt to communicate with them in their way. And you won’t have to sing your own praises. They will do it for you. Find a way to make small bits of continual progress. Never be satisfied with where you are. Improve your skills and your mindset.
8. Continuing Education is Key
If you work in an environment where things change rapidly, it is a good idea to stay at the top of the game with extra classes to keep you in the know. You might not have time to sign up full-time at the local community college for a whole new degree, but when they pass the list around the office of workshops or classes that are coming up that “you may be interested in,” what they are really saying is that they “want” you to be interested but they aren’t going to force it on you.
Show the initiative. Sign up. Learn. Grow. Improve. Experience doesn’t need to be all about tough luck and hard times. Be the individual who is always looking for the strategy that catapults you past the obstacles in your way. Read a book. Take notes. Subscribe to a mastermind group. You are only as valuable to others as you make yourself. So keep learning and growing.
9. Stay LinkedIn
You might not be looking for a job right now. You may be content to stay where you are forever. Social media is a great way to let others know your skill set, though. Including people you already work with. Have fun with it. Be consistent with what you share.
Use LinkedIn to keep an online resume handy. Add everyone you work with to your network, including your bosses. And everyone else you come into contact with professionally. Then update your profile frequently with all the new skills and talents you are acquiring. Your network will get notifications as you are continuously adding skills to your profile and they will be tempted to check out what you’re doing now. Grow your professional fanbase.
10. Don’t Just Be a Problem Finder. Be a Solver.
It’s not enough to point out what the problems are, you have to give some ways to solve it. Everybody can see that it’s going to rain. Be the person who lets everyone know where the best, most affordable umbrellas are. Offer realistic and tangible solutions. And learn how to do it in a way that doesn’t insult anybody else’s intelligence.
Give your solution in the form of a question if you have to. “What do you think about doing (insert brilliant idea here)?” Or “Do you think it would be more effective for the team to (insert whatever awesome thing you’ve come up with here)?” It will make you look smart and inquisitive, but not cocky or pushy. By the way, no one likes the “always-find-a-problem” person.
11. Give credit where credit is due.
Are you the leader of a project? Did someone in your team come up with the most amazing idea of the day? Applaud them. Go ahead and sing their praises. Or sing them a song. Do a little dance. Give them a balloon. Buy them a bran muffin. You get the point.
When people feel valuable at work, they want to work harder. And when you are willing to give someone else the credit for your successes, especially when they deserve it, you succeed too. You get moved from that “boss” seat to the “leader” seat we talked about in #5. And that’s exactly where EDGY people sit.
Make yourself invaluable. Stop going through the motions at the office and complaining because no one will listen to you.
Be so valuable that your company can’t live without you. Be so awesome your customers want more.
These are just a few ways for you to be a badass where you work. You can probably come up with your own list of ways to be awesome.
None of it matters unless you are willing to take action. So pick one or a few — and get started.