Want to Succeed in Your Career? Don’t Just Put Your Head Down and Work Harder

Ellevate Network
3 min readApr 5, 2018

By: Elena Lipson

I recently published a post on 7 Things Badass Professional Women Don’t Do that has sparked a great deal of much-needed discussion around women in the workplace. Many readers have pointed out that these 7 things can apply to anyone, not just women.

I agree.

However, I’ve found that generally, women have a harder time with these 7 behaviors than men do, at least on the surface.

I want to dive deeper into each of these 7 behaviors to help you avoid them and adopt the habits and mindsets that help women at the top of their game stand out and excel.

In this post, we’ll focus on the first one — don’t put your head down and work harder.

This habit is tough to break. Hard work is literally part of the fabric of American society; it’s highly valued and part of the culture for many organizations. It’s tempting to keep working harder because you know how to do it. You know that if you put in more hours, you’ll get more work done and you may even get better results. It feels risky to cut corners or consider a task complete when you could keep working for a couple more hours and make those last few tweaks.

[Related: Being Busy is Nothing to Brag About]

But what if you didn’t think about working less as cutting corners or being lazy? What if, instead, you thought about working smarter?

Badass professional women have this figured out. They know there is a combination of factors that make up their talent stack.

Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams coined the term “talent stack” to refer to the systems we use to layer “one modest skill on top of another until the effect is something special.”

Considered in this light, hard work alone is not really that remarkable. In fact, if you’re successful primarily because you work hard, you’re exposing yourself to the risk of being replaced. There are millions of other hard workers who would be happy to step in and work hard too.

What’s remarkable though is the unique combination of skills and attributes you bring to your role. Each of us has the opportunity to take the simple skills and competencies we have — our natural talents — and leverage them into a system of performance that amounts to more than the sum of our parts.

[Related: Be a High Achiever Instead of a Workaholic]

You can start doing this by making a list of the skills and attributes you have to offer. These don’t have to be the things that you are the best at either. You don’t have to be the best and you shouldn’t try to fake being the best — people will eventually see through that.

It’s enough to just be you.

So here’s my ask of you:

If you find yourself working hard and you’re stuck, overwhelmed or just not getting the results you want… take a beat. Think through your talent stack and how you can do a better job communicating it, practicing it and building relationships around it.

Elena Lipson is the Principal and Founder of Mosaic Growth Partners, a consulting and coaching firm based in Washington, D.C. that helps organizations and entrepreneurs in the healthcare and aging industries with business growth strategy consulting. For a Free 1:1 with Elena, click here For more information on the Badass Professional Women’s Code, a 6-week group coaching program, click here.

Originally published at www.ellevatenetwork.com.



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