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How to Illuminate and Blaze Your Trail

How to Illuminate and Blaze Your Trail

Who says there is only one way to achieve success? Life is filled with twists and turns, with no clear path. How you adjust to those twists and turns can be a test of your resilience and sheer will. In today’s dynamic market environment, it is crucial to create your own path. Here are three ways to break out of your comfort zone and blaze your own trail to success.

Constantly retool.

Update your skill set. Don't wait for your company to tell you what they need. You must figure out what your clients need to thrive.

Take the time to listen to and learn from your customers. What do they like? Dislike? Why? Turn off your autopilot and take inventory of the projects you worked on over the past year. Ask yourself: What did you gain? What new business relationships did you cultivate? If you didn't move the needle in either area, this could be a wake-up call for you to develop a list of skills, people, and interests to explore in the next month, quarter, or year. This will become a roadmap to stretch your capabilities.

Be proactive. Every year, be sure to evaluate your strengths and areas to develop. If you never thought you had a creative bone in your body, consider registering for an art class. Take a course. Listen to podcasts. Read business publications. Sign up for a lecture series. You can be creative, and enjoy the creative process, as well. The next step is to look for projects that help you pump up that creative muscle...and flex it!

[Related: Beyond "To-Do": 5 Lists That Can Change Your Life]

Talk to people.

Create the time to network. The fact that you work 40+ hours per week is no excuse to ignore your network and leave them to gather dust. People have stories and are happy to share them. Actively ask what worked or did not work for them, both professionally and personally.

Why reinvent the wheel? Start compiling a list of “best practices” that you can test, pivot, and test again. Your market research begins here. Look outside of your company and expertise. You'll be surprised what type of “best practices” you can learn from industries that are different from yours. Broaden your network and keep them engaged. Remember: You are Me, Inc. Keep moving forward and blazing your trail.

[Related: How My Squad Helped Me Step Out of My Comfort Zone]

Leverage your strengths.

Make a list of your strengths. If you're not sure where to start, look back on what people have said about you in past reviews. Think about what you were able to accomplish with ease and what will help you to stand out.

Once you have identified your strengths, take inventory of what areas of business you are curious about. Work across business lines; cultivate and strengthen those relationships. Let people get to know you, as well as your abilities.

Seek and ask for opportunities to get involved. You don't have to look to your company to develop your strengths. Consider community groups for opportunities in which you can grow and hone your leadership skills. Take on projects that stretch you. Take charge.

All of this certainly takes work, but it's an investment. Only through being creative, proactive, and forward-thinking will you be able to blaze your trail to success.

[Related: Meeting Your Strengths' Needs in Order to Thrive]


Simone Sloan is an Business Coach, Executive Strategist and Coach, Facilitator, and founder of Mind Body & You Professional Coach LLC, a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certified company. You can find her on Twitter.

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.