The two worst things to say that will hurt your career

Getting ahead in the coaching world and building a successful career (or any professional field) requires much more than knowing the X’ and O’s, lifting techniques and hard core science. Some of the most important qualities to have if you want to be part of high performing team is to be able to work well with others and to take responsibility about, not only your actions, but also, about anything that can affect the team’s chances of success. No one likes to work with ego centered, overly sensitive and entitled people that care only about themselves. So, when challenged with an unexpected job or task never say the following two things:

“It’s not my job”

That’s probably the most disappointing statement you can hear in any team environment. I ‘ve heard it from senior team members, all the way down to interns when asked to do a task on in the job discreption or asked why something wasn’t done properly or not at all. It’s true that in a team setting everyone must pull their own weight. Each member has responsibilities that they have to fulfill without burdening others, but at the same time, they must be available to help others when needed. “It’s not my job” in my mind is translated into on of the following:

  • I don’t care enough
  • I am afraid to take responsibility
  • Why should I do something if I don’t get credit for it

But the best way to stand out in any setting is to take responsibility. To care. To be willing to help others even when you are not asked to do so. To take on tasks even if you ll never get the credit of success right away. Coaches, managers and employers love people that care enough for what’s going on around them to act. They appreciate assistants that take responsibility and contribute meaningfully to problem solving. Good managers and mindful coaches want their assistants not to be afraid to speak up, even if what they say may be unpleasant or doesn’t agree with the group opinion. So it may not be your job, but in the end, everything is related to your job (especially winning or losing) so you must care! Besides, the only way to grow is to take on more responsibility and try things that you never tried before, to get out of your safety zone. On the other hand, if it’s “not your job”, then you ll probably stay where you are right now. You ll be bypassed on any promotions or new opportunities and you ll end up out of the game or working in places you won’t enjoy.

“I don’t get paid enough to do this”

This is another career killer, because life works in just the opposite way. You NEED to do whatever it is you must do BEFORE you can be paid more! Yes, I know, that’s not really fair. You should be compensated exactly for what you do. But if you want to get more, you must prove your worth first. You must do more, stay longer, take on more responsibility, bring more value to yourself and to the organization that you are a part of. And then you can demand more. I have worked with young coaches (even interns – sadly) that have turned down great opportunities to grow and advance when asked to do an extra project without extra pay. Perhaps they felt cheated, insulted or entitled. They didn’t want to give up their free time to try something harder, something that could have catapulted them to where they were dreaming to go. Doing is going to get you from here to there and this doing is often done for free. But the reward could be beyond measure.

So try to make yourself indispensable, ask for responsibility and keep your radar on for ways you can help people. Prove you worth and “thu shall receive”* That’s how it works, not the other way around. Make it “your job”, care about what’s going on in your team or your department.

*Read Seth Godin’s “Linchpin” for more insights on being indispensable.

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