Saturday, October 31, 2009

Seek Not the Position, Let the Position Seek You

Everywhere we look, we see people trying to scale the ladder of success. Many of those individuals look to a position of leadership. Be it a manager, director, president, CEO, or senior sales associate, we strive to climb the ranks of authority and power. To some, this means taking a position by any means necessary while others do very little at all. In this article, I will discuss a life lesson on obtaining a position or rank in an organization. The lesson is applicable not only in business, but also in ones personal life.

Since I was a child, I have always sought a position of power. I remember moments of extreme bossiness amongst my friends and family, but also recall attempts at formal positions like president of student government. Some times I was successful and other times I was not, but the drive to lead has always been there.


After college, I learned a very real lesson about leadership and the drive for authoritative positions. The lesson was summed up quite simply, "Man does not seek the position, the position seeks the man."

What does that mean? To me, it means putting away the focus on a title and strive to be the best at whatever you do. As a result, people, positions, and opportunity tend to find their way to you.

How To Apply This Lesson In Your Life

Be Humble
I am reminded of something Jesus said in the Bible.

When you are invited to a wedding feast, don't sit in the best place. Someone more important may have been invited. Then the one who invited you will come and say, "Give your place to this other guest!" You will be embarrassed and will have to sit in the worst place. When you are invited to be a guest, go and sit in the worst place. Then the one who invited you may come and say, "My friend, take a better seat!" You will then be honored in front of all the other guests. If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored.

While Jesus is talking about guest etiquette, I believe there is truth here regarding the rise to power. Instead of fighting at all costs to secure a position, allow those in power to choose you. This means being humble and not buying into the hype of self-importance.

Be Prepared
The call to action can come at anytime. Based on my experiences, it usually happens when least expected. Therefore, it is important to be ready for the opportunity. This means your focus should be on self-improvement. Self-improvement can come in many different fashions, but it may include getting an education, learning to control your temper, or doing what you can with what you have. Do not wait until the door opens to prepare, do whats right before anyone even notices you.

Be Yourself

Each one of us is unique. From the sound of our voice to the print on our fingers, we all have the opportunity to bring something new to the table. Often, when people are looking for the next best thing, it typically involves something, or someone, fresh and innovative. To achieve this step, simply allow yourself to shine. Forget what everyone else is doing and "do you!"

Be Visible
The decision to put people into positions is not always a planned event. In an emergency, people turn to those things and people they trust. The key is to make yourself known. This means introduce yourself to people and stay connected with them. With Twitter, Facebook, and text messaging, it is really easy to say "hi" or comment on someone's post. In person, make an effort to recognize both people you know and people you do not.

Be Interested
Take a lesson from my friend Mary Nations and seek to care about others first. Ask someone to lunch and listen to them talk about their lives. Engage them with genuine questions and seek to understand them. As I learned from Dale Carnegie, people care more about their own interests and can talk at great lengths about themselves. Be interested in others and you be remembered.

Be Accessible
As Chris Brogan points out, the overnight success is not really overnight. The path is long and built on small achievements. Therefore, be accessible for the little things, not just the big. If helping people means doing behind-the-scene type work, do it and do it well. When someone asks for help, be the first to raise your hand. Remember, those who are faithful in little will be faithful in much.

I hope this information helps you achieve your personal and career goals. In addition, I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below.

Until next time...

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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