I wanted to share a personal story with each of you. Some of you already know it; some of you will be told anew. The reason I’m sharing it is that I am aware that many of you struggle to figure out what to do to get ahead in your careers as aspiring or experienced business analysts. This is my story, or at least a portion of it. I might have mentioned some of this before in a previous post, but this one has a different context. So please forgive any repetition.
I was disenfranchised in 2008 after several years of not really getting anywhere career-wise…and I was angry about that. Really angry. Get up and walk out the door angry. Anger is a wonderful motivator, in case you didn’t know. After coming home day after day with this anger, I finally decided at the end of 2008 that I was simply going to seek the things that I needed from outside my day job.
So, I stepped out into the world of the internet and began corresponding, blogging, communicating with peers and people I admired for their smarts, enhancing my digital footprint, etc. After about six months, strange things started to occur. Analysts from all over the planet began to contact me out of the blue to obtain advice and such from me on analysis topics. Early on, I wondered what the heck that they were asking me for, as I was no analyst guru. However, I realized that while not a guru, I was also not a newcomer and thus might have something to offer someone less junior. So I did. Simple as that. Little by little I helped those who sought help while I, in turn, continued to learn and ask for help myself.
At about this same time, someone in my local chapter of IIBA asked me to mentor him in business analysis. What a humbling suggestion this was for me, and this began a chapter in my life in which I found a new and unexpected passion as a mentor. Over the last two plus years, I have continued to get more involved in mentoring business analysts in different ways. Each new activity solidifies the desire to do it even more. In fact, I recently made a decision that I wanted to mentor full time within ten years. When I made that decision, I realized that I needed some knowledge under my belt in order to be a better mentor for anyone who might be under my guidance now or in the future. I also realized that I would not be able to get that experience in my current organization, so I began looking for something new. Recently, I got a new job and am thrilled about the potential challenge that awaits me now and in the future. AND THIS is why I’m writing this post today.
I wanted to convey to each of you struggling with direction or success that I firmly believe that the decision in 2008 and the subsequent efforts to expand my horizons and knowledge have led to the job that I just mentioned. I think that constant attention to expanding my online presence in LinkedIn, Twitter and asking tons of stupid questions, guest blogging in a few places, as well as active efforts like joining the IIBA and mentoring, has built a digital footprint in which anyone wanting to know something about me can acquire that knowledge easily. Perhaps more importantly, I unknowingly built a history of volunteerism, active participation, knowledge sharing, and community involvement, all the while I was enjoying trying out new things, like writing articles. This has painted a picture for anyone wanting to know something about me and has created a pattern of behavior that hopefully says something positive.
I really have tried hard on this post to steer away from a “see what I did?” feeling, so I hope that comes across while I use some of my accomplishments as context. My goal is to let you know that you should continue to focus your energies on your future and step out of your comfort zone to attempt things you never thought you could do. Don’t expect anyone to sell you any better than you can sell yourself; get an image of who you are out into the ether for all to see what you are capable of. It might take some time to craft this image in the way you wish to portray yourself, so get started as soon as you can. It’s essential that you not only get your message out there as soon as possible, but that you are in control of who you are and how you are displayed to the world. I want you to know that even in a tough economy, there is still hope that you can acquire the things that you want and need to move your career forward.
Start today and spend some time on who you are and marketing that message continuously. Back it up with action and consistency in delivery. Identify a goal or goals for yourself and go out and achieve. Then look back and see what you’ve done for yourself; it’s a great feeling and you will deserve it.
Do you have a story where stepping out of your comfort zone has really paid off? Perhaps reading this post has motivated you to make some changes in your own career direction. Please share in the comments below.