Is It Time For a Mid-Career Tune-up?

by Mike Sleppin

Mike Sleppin's specialty is creating significant positive change in people-intensive industries whose business environment is changing rapidly. For example, since 1989, Mike has worked with firms touching every facet of the construction, transportation and printing industries as well as the other professional groups (Architects, Accountants, Engineers, Commercial Insurance etc) that service those niche markets. As a highly experienced, global business traveler, he helps small to mid-sized organizations understand and plan for their successful expansion into global markets. As a result of Mike's body of work, organizations achieve the goals that are important to them on a regular and consistent basis.

The biggest challenge each of us has is the lightning pace of change going on. If you came into the work force only ten years ago you already see that things are not as they were. The social, political, and economic issues we grapple with are not those of yesteryear. If you agree, but are still doing things in ways you did them before, you will damage your progress. Too many will tell us that they work for such and such organization. Wrong. You work for you! Peter Drucker, one of the most important business leaders said, "There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all."

If you are not sure what the mission and purpose of your organization is, how can you be of value? If you can't be of value why would anyone help to advance your career? Suggestion, find out how your performance is measured, and how you are expected to add value to the organization. When you were hired, you were hired to add value (not to take up time and space). Once you have answers, you can develop a personal vision for your personal and your work life. When you have developed that vision you can then make the necessary adjustments that will take you closer to that North Star.

Each month, I suggest you do the following, ask:

  • Did my work add value?
  • How much time did I spend on the important goals?
  • Am I managing my time?
  • Did I help my internal customers by understanding what they need from me?

Think about the news relating to the failures of the VA hospitals. Obviously they couldn't add value, if their system is so broken that timely care could not be provided. Who cares how competent a doctor is if you can't get to see the doctor. Who cares how many credentials you have, if your work doesn't add value because your behavior has not changed, even though your work world has changed. If you look at companies, nations or people who have risen and then declined, it is always because they refused to change even though the world has changed (think Sears, Railway Express, Kodak or Greece, Persia, Egypt).

I suggest you ask your boss or your board the following: If you told me that I was the most effective person to have ever held this position what would have happened that would cause you to say that to me? Now you will really understand what you must succeed at.

As you give up control of what was important yesterday you gain control of what is important today. When you gain control of that which is important today, you become a star.

What is the most important thing you will do starting next week?

Do you know why you are spending time doing what it is you are doing? A rut is a coffin with the ends knocked out. Get out of the rut and change your life forever!