Change Anything is subtitled “The New Science of Personal Success.” Written by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan , and Al Switzler , the book bills itself as a strategic, step by step system for adopting—and sticking to—better behaviors. The authors have tested behavior changing methods, and claim to be able to help anyone break bad habits – from addiction to overeating to being stuck in your career.
For instance, when speaking of careers, the authors give advice on how to become a top performer in your company. They give three characteristics of top performers. How many of these describe your work?
1. You know your stuff. The Change Anything authors say that it’s not enough to be competent; top performers actually invest considerable time in making sure that they are very good at the technical aspects of their jobs. They eat, breathe, and sleep their professions. You may have taken the stance that your company is responsible for training you in necessary skills. Top performers don’t wait for the company to identify and train to valuable skills; they develop them on their own. That means that they are setting the standard by which their peers are judged.
2. You focus on the Right Stuff. The Change Anything authors say that Top performers seek out the problems that have the greatest strategic importance to their team, their manager, and their organization—and find ways to contribute in these areas. They equip themselves to make their best and highest contribution to addressing these challenges. They spend time studying the company and what will be important not just today, but tomorrow. They’re setting the agenda for change and progress. By being perceived as futurists, they win confidence of upper management and get important assignments.
3. You build a reputation for being helpful. Top performers are networkers, both inside and outside their companies. They also use their expertise and time to develop a reputation for being helpful. They become widely known and respected by others because they help others solve their problems. The authors say that this tendency makes top performers more likely to be known by name. People describe them as experts who are generous with their time (emphasis theirs.)
Which of these characteristics is your strength? Which is your weakness? For most workers, it’s probably a combination of working on the Right Stuff and networking. Almost every worker claims to be busy every minute of the work day; the real test is whether you are working on projects that make a significant difference for the company. If you’re not sure that you’re spending your time on the most important stuff, ask your manager. Request a meeting to get real feedback on what you’re doing and how you’re perceived.
You should also ask yourself how generous you are with your time and expertise. How many times in the past year have you passed up assignments or turned down requests for information or help because you were too busy? Top performers are as busy as anyone; they don’t necessarily have the time to help others; they make time because they know how important the investment is for their own careers, and the careers of those they help. Don’t make the mistake of rating yourself against the performance of the people you know do less than you; that’s a rookie mistake. Rate yourself against top performers and you’ll get a real feel for where you stand in the company.