Are you ready to level up?
No matter what you’re doing — working on projects, working at your local Chick-fil-A, or working at a high-growth startup as a Praxis apprentice — there’s always room to get better. As long as you’re doing something, you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of it.
In this week’s Praxis Monday workshop, we talked about leveling up. We started our conversation by setting goals, then talked about leveling up in context to those goals. (You want to transition to the marketing department? What would it take to level up to make that happen?).
In this post I’m going to break down the process we followed live in the workshop. I’d recommend working through the post with a paper and pen, or with a notes doc opened on your computer. Don’t just passively read this — follow along, and set a gameplan for yourself to follow to level up in whatever you’re currently working on.
And if you do, I want to hear about your goals for the next three months — really. But more on that later.
Goal setting exercise:
We’re going to start by setting a framework to talk about growth.
Set a timer for two minutes and write down the answer to this question:
where do you see yourself in three months? Three months from now, what are the biggest ways you want to have grown, or the things you want to be doing, or have accomplished?
Your answer to this question becomes your compass when talking about leveling up. It will determine the things you need to learn and the ways you need to grow.
Next we need to talk about the stuff getting in your way. There are things standing in your way of growth. We have to identify what they are.
Allotting 90 seconds to each, answer the following questions:
- What’s the biggest thing standing in your way of growth right now — today, this week, etc.?
- What’s the biggest thing standing in your way of growth this month?
- If you keep doing exactly what you’re doing, where will you *actually* end up in three months? And how close is that projected destination to where you actually want to go?
There can be a lot of different things standing in your way of growth — lack of skills, lack of permission (nobody said it was okay to take this on), lack of direction, lack of time.
Once you know what the biggest hurdles are, you can get really focused on overcoming them.
And that’s the fun part.
The Three Steps to Level Up:
- Learn (information intake is the fuel of growth)
- Take ownership of where you want to go (want to grow? You need to drive that process)
- Take action (start growing on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Once you’ve accomplished steps 1 and 2, it’s just a matter of execution).
We’re going to dig into all three, one step at a time.
Step 1: Always be Learning
If you never learn anything new, you’ll only be able to do the same things you’ve always done. That’s stagnation, not growth.
If you want to get better, you have to get smarter. Here are the biggest places to start:
Consume more content.
It doesn’t even have to be related to the things you’re working on. I work in education, but right now I’m reading a book on writing and a book on sports psychology. They seem unrelated, but both have insights that make me a better teacher and a better coach. The book on writing talks about giving feedback and critique in a constructive way, and the book on sports psychology explores how people most effectively learn.
Consuming content on the things you’re working towards is valuable, though, too. If you’re working in sales, you should probably always be consuming something related to sales.
Whatever it is you choose to dig into, consistently consume. Carve space to listen to podcasts, to read, to watch interesting videos.
Turn your vocation into an apprenticeship.
If you’re working somewhere, don’t just treat it like a job. Treat it like an apprenticeship — meaning your intention in your employment is to learn. A few ways to do this:
Don’t just silo yourself in your department. Learn about the other departments, too! Ask questions, or take people from other departments out to coffee. Become a team player, not just a cog in the wheel.
Focus on internal networking. Get to know the rest of your team! There’s a lot you can learn from them. Some ways to do this:
- Earn social capital by taking things off of your teammates’ plates
- Set coffee dates with your teammates and get to know them better
- Build rapport/be personal
- Set goals for how you want to learn and ask your teammates for recommendations. Do they have things they think you should try, or books you should read, or things that helped them as they were growing?
Exercise: This advice is only as good as the actions you take with it. Take a minute and write down three things you can do to increase the amount of learning you’re doing.
Step 2: Own Your Growth
“Only you can propel your growth.” — Smokey the Bear
Okay, maybe Smokey didn’t say that. But if he’d been a proponent of career growth instead of environmental safety, he would’ve put it on billboards all over the country.
Because it’s true. Your growth is up to you. No one else can do it for you, and no one else will prioritize it as much as you. So you’ve got to sit down in the driver’s seat and take the wheel.
Owning your growth means two things:
- Knowing what you want, and
- Committing to making it happen
Don’t wait for permission — just outgrow the pot.
You know how people always talk about fish being stunted by their fish tanks? If its tank is too small, a fish will stop growing, and it won’t get any bigger until it’s moved into a larger tank.
A plant, on the other hand, takes its growth into its own hands. It doesn’t care how big the pot is — it just keeps growing, whether you like it or not. It’ll keep growing until its roots are spilling out the bottom and it’s spilling out over the sides and it either forces you to replant it or it breaks the pot.
You want to be like that too. Don’t wait for somebody to tell you it’s okay to grow. Just do it.
Need to level up? (You probably do — everybody does). Here are some places to start:
In your job:
- Own communication with your boss (don’t let it own you)
- Think about managing up (tell your boss what you’re doing, and tell them what you need from them, rather than waiting passively for instructions)
- Always do 10% more
In your projects (which include projects at your job!):
- Keep a journal of ideas for new and innovative things you can do
- Block time for creative work so it doesn’t get lost
- Embrace the “learn about things outside your role” element of Step 1.
Exercise: Take two minutes and write down an answer to this question: what are three things you can do to take your growth into your own hands?
Step 3: Start Taking Action
Remember how we started this exercise by talking about the biggest things holding you back from growth right now?
Your three-month goals aren’t things that will magically come to fruition when the three-month timer is up. They’re accomplished incrementally, by the things you’re doing on a day-to-day basis.
Here’s a list of things you can start doing right now to start leveling up:
- Practice internal marketing (share with your team the things you’re working on)
- Set weekly goals for yourself, and take notes every day on how you’re progressing
- Own social media (post at least twice a week, and share the things you’re working on!)
- Keep a running list of project ideas for extra things you can take on.
I asked our apprentices on the call what the biggest things are that they’ve done to start taking action, and the biggest things that have helped them level up. Here are some of their answers:
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you can learn to ask the right questions, and then listen to the answers and use them to perform better, you’re going to thrive — but you have to actually listen and then follow through on what they say. After somebody answers your question, you don’t want to have to ask them again, and you do want to take initiative. This is the permissionless mindset — ‘I might not do it well, but I’m going to do it, and I’m going to ask questions about what I did and learn from that too.’”
“Make a mental model of what your day’s going to look like the night before. It’s easy to waste time in your morning trying to think about what your day is going to look like, or getting stuck during the day, but if you do that the night before or during your commute, you don’t have to waste time during your day planning.”
“Set aside an hour for yourself every day to learn/study/practice the thing you want to grow in.”
“Write down how much time you’re spending on each thing. Figure out how much time you want allotted to a project, and then track that.”
Exercise: what’s one thing you can commit to doing to start leveling up right now — today, tomorrow, this week?
Putting All This in Action
If you’ve completed all of the exercise steps listed above, you should have the following:
- Your goals for the next three months
- The biggest things holding you back from growth right now
- The biggest things holding you back from growth this month
- The answer to the question: “If you keep doing exactly what you’re doing, where will you *actually* be in three months?”
- The three things you can do to increase the amount of learning you’re doing
- The three things you can do to take ownership of your growth
- The one action step you can commit to taking right now.
Now it’s time to put this all into action!
If you’ve completed this exercise, I want to hear from you! I’d love to hear your goals for the next three months, and the ways you’re excited to grow. What’s the biggest way you want to be different three months from now? Send me an email and let me know –> hannah(at)discoverpraxis(dot)com