When I was 12 years old, I saw Star Wars in the theater at least six times. When I got home from the sixth screening, I ran straight to my mother and said, “Mom, Luke Skywalker knows his destiny and I know mine. My destiny is to help people achieve their creative destiny.” I’ve been lucky to be able to do so ever since. At Yahoo, I spend my days building and empowering our transformative talent, and hopefully I can help you grow your career too.
I think one of the most daunting and compelling things about life is the mystery of the unknown. It’s hard to see the plan for growth when you’re so focused on the day-to-day. The future becomes a far off idea that you can’t quite imagine, let alone figure out how to build.
When I'm speaking with Yahoo employees, I advise them on five simple steps that help clear a path for career growth. These tips help you focus on the big picture, which helps the business succeed, and ultimately helps you succeed. As a self-proclaimed comic book junkie, I’ve appropriately dubbed them . . .
THE SUPERPOWER STEPS TO CAREER GROWTH
1. Know your superpowers.
What are you good at? Chances are you have felt an interest in your superpower all your life. Think about what you love and what you excel at. Think back to your childhood, passions, hobbies, and interests. When you feel “in your zone” and time passes quickly, what are you doing? Capitalize on that. And as Batman taught us, anyone can be a hero—no matter how “super” your powers are.
2. Know who you’re working for and who you want to work for.
Gain an understanding for how the decision makers on your team think. What are they looking for? Why did they hire you? What skills do you need to impress them to get to the next level?
3. Understand their needs and the company’s needs (this is key!).
Depending on the level of transparency in your company, this can be really easy or really difficult, but it is crucial. In order to excel, you must learn the goals of the company, your department and your manager. You can then shape your individual goals around them (and use your superpowers to achieve them).
Deliver on the business goals you’ve outlined. By your review, you will have succeeded in meeting the high-level business needs of the company.
5. Take risks to stretch, grow, and learn.
This is just physics. You must be operating above your level in order to be considered for the next one. So don’t be afraid to take on a challenge.
There will always be mystery in the future, and as you work on your career superpowers—both identifying and learning how to use them—you can never know definitively where they will lead you. And you don’t need to. Einstein said that 52% of all great creativity is accidental, so be ready to grab opportunity and own your career development.
Whether your career is just beginning or you’re well into your journey, I hope these tips will help you take ownership, grow, and ultimately lead you to reaching your creative destiny—whatever that may be.
Remember, Bruce Wayne as Batman can't fly, he doesn't transform himself when he's angry. He just fights bad guys. And does a really good job.
—Sandy Gould is the senior vice president of global talent acquisition and development at Yahoo. Previously, he lead recruitment for the Disney/ABC Television Group, where he was responsible for talent acquisition and talent development initiatives.
[Image: Flickr user Renato Ganoza]