The world is filled with advice
about how to do things at work better or differently so that you’ll get noticed, and get ahead. I’ve offered up my fair share of it. Don’t deliver, over-deliver. Volunteer for hard assignments
All professional stuff, right?
So how about some unprofessional advice for a change? That is, how about some advice about what you can do when you’re not at work to improve your chances of advancement?
1. Read a book about a time or a culture that confounds
When you dive into the deep with a mystery, and you then somehow wrangle that mystery into the light of understanding, it can blow open your mind to new ways of seeing people and the world.
Take, for instance, a book I read 2 summers ago
In a word, the story is nightmarish. Yet, I’d read it again in a heartbeat. The book enlightened me in ways that have made me better able to talk about India in my work as a business journalist
So pick up a book
in particular one you wouldn’t normally read for fun. The upside will come later, when you see your hard-won knowledge make you wiser at work.
2. Write thank you notes
The best manager I’ve ever known used to keep a small piece of paper taped to her desk. “Gratitude,” it read.
She displayed gratitude to everyone. It was a life thing
Through a series of unexpected events, I ended up giving her a ride to a funeral. The next morning, though, my inbox contained a beautiful thank you note.
Saying thank you all the time is a discipline
It’s a practice, and a personality trait. It’s a heart thing. Do it in your off hours, and chances are, you’ll keep it going when you walk into the office.
3. Get your hands dirty volunteering. Literally.
With this final point I’m recommending something more gritty. Like walking dogs at a rescue, or serving meals at a homeless shelter
It builds character.
Character matters. People may tell you promotions are all about the numbers you hit. In any good company, character is the intangible “X factor” that managers agonize over when deciding promotion
Character is like love. You can never have enough of it
So build yours at work every chance you get, but don’t stop at that. Even if it’s two hours a weekend, spread kindness when no one is looking.
The way life usually works,
on Monday morning, everyone will see it in you anyway.
And even if they don’t see it
I’d make the case it’s still all good. Growing your intellect, showing gratitude, and caring for the helpless enrich your soul, sometimes in ways work itself cannot.