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  • Felicia Lyon

What’s the Key to Career Success? Knowing the Value You Bring to the Table


Vision board. Road map. Plan of attack.


No matter what you call it, setting goals is a necessary step if you want to achieve your personal version of success. While some people thrive from accepting spontaneous opportunities, the people who take the time to clearly define the path to the top usually see the greatest success.


An overlooked step in goal-setting is blocking off time to track your progress along the way. Analyzing your accomplishments (or failures) will help you to make more competent decisions in the future, help you avoid costly mistakes and help build your confidence as you approach the next milestone. Though important steps in the journey, be careful not to become stuck in the planning or analyzing stages. What sets my practice apart is a relentless focus on action, with a belief that any action leads to more action, persistently climbing the mountain step-by-step.


Knowing Your Value

Everything starts with knowing your value.


Your value is a culmination of your time, the experience you have, the specific expertise that sets you apart and your personal network connections. Understanding your worth is an invaluable tool because it empowers you to make decisions which achieve your goals more efficiently. Knowing your value as a person and a leader helps you set clear objectives, so you can easily navigate through hurdles that would otherwise impede your ambitions, such as a mistake of accepting a position that doesn’t provide professional growth.


Knowing your value, what you have to offer to a company or person, projects a strong narrative that is hard for anyone to ignore. It also gives you the ability to say “no” to opportunities that don’t serve you. You know another opportunity will soon arise, because your value is known.


Obviously, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. People-pleasing and a bias that women should not boast about themselves are deeply ingrained in many women, which can make saying "no" and stating your own value very difficult. Yet, the more comfortable you become at clarifying your value to others, the easier it will become to use your voice in critical situations, such as during contract negotiations and promotions.


Owning Your Value

Here’s how to become confident at owning your value:

  • Write down at least five characteristics that make you invaluable to any organization or client. Identify these as Super Powers to remind yourself of the unique value you bring to any situation or challenge.

  • Determine the professional skills that only you possess at your level.

  • Learn how to create and own your narrative, using points above. Try this exercise: Write down a handful of adjectives that you would use to describe yourself, then ask a few people in your trusted circle - peers, direct reports, clients - what adjectives they would use to describe you. Make sure to sprinkle those adjectives into your narrative, as direct evidence from those who work with you. If you notice adjectives that are different, maybe you are not being perceived the way you want to be and you need to make a change. Or, if they are positive adjectives, perhaps these are Super Powers that you are not taking credit for?

  • Provide evidence of your success and the impact it has on your company’s growth. Use client-centric metrics, people-centric metrics, leadership-centric metrics and finance-centric metrics. The best way to do this is to create a personal performance dashboard to track progress in each area of your business and life, and refer back to it to realize your increasing value. For example, my business growth in a previous career involved three major areas: client development, firm development, and people development. I created a dashboard in Microsoft Excel to track my progress in each area, updated it frequently, and added a new page each year to continue my story. I now have years of progress right at my fingertips, a clear way to prove my value to future clients and companies.

  • Let others do the talking for you: mentors, sponsors and advisors that are willing to go to bat for you.

Once you’re confident in expressing your value in various situations, you’ll have the key to a successful career and overall life.


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