Have you ever had a day off from work and driven around mid-day, astonished at how little traffic there is? You can get anywhere you’re going 5x faster than usual.
This simple concept of trying to drive when everyone else is off the roads can be carried over into your life and career too.
Look for the path of least resistance… If 100 other people are doing something in the exact same way at the exact same time, you probably don’t want to be there. Avoid the crowd.
How can this be applied to your career?
Look to develop a unique combination of skills that will set you apart from the pack. Don’t follow a common path or you’ll have to compete with the common workers (and trust me, there are a TON of them to compete with).
If you work within a specific area of your company, think about what other skills would compliment that area, and you’ll have an advantage.
One way technical people (engineers, computer programmers, scientists, etc.) do this is by learning to be business-savvy as well. By learning communication and presentation skills, business concepts like finance, marketing, budgeting, and project management, these people immediately set themselves apart from their colleagues.
Here are specific career examples to imitate in your life:
Example 1: statisticians. Most people working in statistics are incredibly shy, quiet, and simply do not enjoy social interaction.
If somebody in this field made a conscious effort to become comfortable in meetings, conversations, other ‘business environments’ and social settings, they would quickly advance into a leadership position.
This can work in reverse too…
Let’s say you’re working in HR within a pharmaceutical company.
If you make an effort to build a strong understanding of the technical side of the business (research and development, manufacturing, etc.), you’ll be able to communicate more effectively with people from those areas.
You’ll become their go-to person for technical conversations when they interact with your HR department because they’ll know you can understand the details and translate it to your team.
You’ll quickly rise within your department because you found a way to separate yourself from the herd. You’re no longer stuck competing with a bunch of people with the same HR skills and nothing else.
Conclusion/The Big Picture:
Think of the traffic example. Are you in the right situation to succeed? Have you identified a path of less resistance?
Or are you sitting in rush hour, taking 5x longer to get where you’re going because of all the competition?
If you’re in a company with hundreds of people fighting for one or two good positions, leave.
Before you can focus on winning, you have to ask yourself if you’re playing the right game.
If not, find a better situation to be in.
Once you’ve found the right situation, use the examples in this article to develop a unique skill set that will set you apart from your peers. Doing this will allow you to advance your career quickly with very little competition.