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Put the oxygen mask on yourself first, before assisting others. We hear this very well-known phrase when flying on a plane, and perhaps offered as sage advice if you put others’ needs before your own. But recently, I heard this phrase used in a talk about keeping on the edge of your career by Chris Savage, and I thought it was important to share.

It’s easy to get caught in the grind at work and feel too busy to work on ourselves. However, there’s no growth in the comfort zone. To become outstanding at what we do, we should push ourselves to the front in little ways where we stand out, speak up and get remembered. We may not always hit the mark, but you, your name, and your professional brand will stand out from the rest. 

It’s important to reflect on your career – how you’re doing right now, what you could do better, and how you’d like the remaining years of your career to look. Remember, what got you ‘here’ won’t get you ‘there’, so what worked in your twenties, will look very different if you’re career planning to 65. The ability to adapt and change is vital.

Here are Chris’ top 10 tips to progress and innovate your career:

  1. Begin with the end in mind – create a vivid image of your ‘success’. Write it down, make a plan, and take small actions each day towards that goal.
  2. Be a key person of influence – publish content, have scalable and diverse skills, be visible and connected.
  3. Work on your likeability – soften your edges and learn to be a good team player.
  4. Networking – give others time, build goodwill equity, keep your visibility high, and use LinkedIn. If you can develop relationships, anything is possible.
  5. The nano degree – work on your ability to learn rapidly. Every three months, set aside six hours to learn something new (for example ChatGPT). It’s not an official course, it’s time for you to research, delve into and learn any topic that interests you or could benefit your career.
  6. Keep connected – there’s so much to learn from those around us, no matter their job or seniority. Start a reverse mentoring program, change your routine, and see what you could learn ‘on the street’.
  7. Leverage your special talents – What do colleagues think of when they hear your name? Are you known for outcomes? Problem solver? Great in a crisis? You are your own brand. Know what it is and leverage it.
  8. Know your tribe – who are the people that ‘pump your tyres’?
  9. Be optimistic – do things for others. Be a learned optimist.
  10. Take deliberate oxygen – Be strong for yourself. Put the oxygen mask on yourself first, before assisting others.

Shereen Cherrett