Grow Beyond Yourself

February 6th, 2009 by | Print


One of my proudest career accomplishments is working my way from receiving clerk to VP of Sales in a 5 year span. I accomplished this in a cutthroat company of roughly 250 employees and $300 million in sales (at its peak). I wasn’t related to the owners – eliminating the possibility for nepotistic advancement. I wasn’t carrying a college degree and upper management was earning far too much to tender their resignations any time soon.


Fortunately I worked for an organization that believed in advancement from within. However, my accelerated advancement was unique. I realized early on that in order to succeed, I would need to take on the tasks that no one wanted to tackle, but needed to be done, and I would have to grow beyond my current capabilities. I simply asked for opportunity and excelled.


I worked 80 to 90 hours a week for a couple of years (luckily I was single otherwise I would have soon become single), but having a solid work ethic was not enough of a differentiating factor. To set myself apart from the pack, I needed to grow beyond what the organization could teach me. Many of my other counterparts grew through the organization because they were able to take on what the company taught them. I excelled because I was able to bring new ideas, solutions and insights that were not homegrown, and in some cases solved problems that were not yet identified.


How did I accomplish this? There were two very important key factors.


  1. I learned to get out of my way early on.
  2. I worked hard to feed an insatiable hunger for knowledge.


So, what does it mean to get out of one’s way? In my case it meant continually stepping outside of my comfort zone. I didn’t allow my fear of failure to dictate my success. The fear of looking me in the mirror and knowing I had held me back was more difficult than dealing with the perceptions of failure from others. Not only did I take on the tasks that no one else wanted, but they were tasks that I had little to no knowledge or prior experience with. I set aside my fears in favor of faith that I could succeed coupled with the energizing experience of a new discovery.


Since I had stepped outside of my comfort zone, my best chances for survival hinged on education. I scoured the Internet, I spoke to other business professionals, and I read various business books. As a result, I was able to provide fresh ideas and solutions that were inspired by sources outside of my organization.


As a solopreneur the task becomes more difficult because the targets for success must be set by you and not others. Additionally, you lose the measurement of competing with co-workers for advancement. You must compete with yourself. Try viewing yourself from an outsider’s perspective. Where are you holding your potential back? Are you creating a continual education program to grow beyond your own current capabilities?


Unless you are completely content with your current level of success, your best chances for growing your business is to grow beyond yourself.


All The Best,

Doug Dolan
The Solopreneur’s Guide


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