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Preparing For Future Opportunities

“Prepare yourself today for the unforeseen opportunities of tomorrow.

This is a favorite piece of advice that I give to young professionals who are making the first twists and turns of their career journey.  In short, this advice makes a few callouts:  Show up.  Participate.  Be positive and open minded.  Do a good job, every day.  Do what you say you are going to do.  Build rapport and a strong network.  Communicate your heart out, because you never know who is watching.  You never know what actions are occurring behind the scenes, and you never know what new roles and opportunities may be open in the future.  I’ve always thought about this quote in the context of business, and it played out a couple of weekends ago in the sports arena.

My husband is a huge soccer fan, and he watches European matches with great interest and passion.  His favorite team is Manchester United, a beloved and storied team with an international fan base greater than the New York Yankees and New England Patriots.  They get a lot of eyeballs, and with that comes all the pressure to win that you would expect for a professional sports team.  Manchester United has had a season of ups and downs, and most recently, they have been plagued by injuries.  So much so, that they have drawn from their junior team to fill in for injured starters.  Once such players is Marcus Rashford, a 18-year-old player who scored four goals in his first two matches of his senior debut.  The second match was a home game against Arsenal with a crowd topping 75,000 fans.

icon_CoachTeam_rgbAs we watched the replay, I commented to my husband that many of these players didn’t know they would be playing in “the big leagues” this time last month.  He replied that even as early as one week ago, many of the players who moved from the junior to senior team didn’t know that they would be playing.   Amazing.

In both business and sports, you never know when something will happen. Marcus Rashford didn’t know that injuries would allow him to be promoted to the senior team so quickly.  I don’t know about his time in the junior team, but I’m sure he was a superstar and his coaches felt he would be ready to play in the big game.  Play he did, by getting Manchester United two needed wins as they continue in the season.  When the opportunity was given to him, he scored the needed goal.  (Well, four goals, but you get my meaning.)

Prepare yourself today for the unforeseen opportunities of tomorrow.  Show leadership skills today so your name may come up when a new manager slot is opening.

Get to know coworkers in other departments, and if an interesting job in their area becomes available, you can get their thoughts (and possibly positive reference).  Take interest in developing yourself, especially if your company provides tools such as training libraries, mentoring programs, or product/IT knowledge.  All of these items combined will help make you better at your current position while making an impression on others who may be watching your work with an eye on where you can grow next.  I can attest to the power of this practice in my career, and it is the biggest piece of advice that I can give to others as we each continue our journeys in 2016.

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