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How to Be the CEO of Your Own Career

The secret to professional development is taking control of the direction of your career

By | Brooke Medina | Doug McCullough

Whether you’re a young graduate just starting your career or someone who is feeling the vocational version of the “Seven Year Itch,” the secret to professional development is taking control of the direction of your career. Many young professionals have been taught to ask for permission and seek guidance at every turn. At times this is understandable because young professionals have much to learn. But, it is easy to misapply this lesson and end up feeling a lack of control over your own career.

Professional success starts with being the CEO of your own career. Ray Kroc, the visionary who took McDonald’s restaurants from seven small locations to the global chain it is today, once said, “The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.”

If you aspire to be an entrepreneur, approaching your own career like an executive will help you prepare for your eventual launch. Here are six ways you can become the CEO of your career.

Leadership will demand you make tough calls from time to time. An executive must make decisions based on the best-available information at the time, which means there will sometimes be incomplete data.

It’s equally important to recognize that not all decisions are created equal. In a 1998 letter to shareholders, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos describes the importance of first determining the type of decision you’re making, differentiating between Type 1 decisions (such as quitting your job), which are impossible to reverse once it’s set into motion, or Type 2 decisions, which you can backtrack from (like signing up for a professional certification course that you later discover wasn’t worth the investment).

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