Rule 70: Prepare for the step after next

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Nigeria's Billionaire Industrialist, Aliko Dangote

Sorry but you can’t coast.  You are a Rules Player now and you must stick at it – no days off, no rests, no breaks, no putting your feet up drinking coffee and staring into space. Back to the grindstone.  So, you’ve got your eye on the next step, the next job. Fine, good.  But what about after that?  What’s your next step?  What’s your next target?

Even before you’ve got your next promotion you should already be practicing for the next step.  Because if you aren’t getting ready now, when will you be?  There is always an opportunity to miss a step out, to skip over a promotion if you play this game well.  I’m not suggesting this should always be your aim, but be prepared just in case it happens.


Of course you have your long – and short-term plans – Rule 21 – so you will have plotted your career path and know the steps you have to take on your great journey.  Even now you will be getting people to assume you have already made the next step, acting the part of the next step, walking your walk, and talking as if you were already the boss, but it doesn’t hurt to start practicing for the step after that.

“He was preparing for his next step.  He took to coming to work carrying a briefcase when none of his colleagues did – none of us needed one. Trouble is Ray’s briefcase fell open one day and revealed to the entire world that all it contained was his sandwiches, a newspaper and a set of keys”.

Letting people see that you are officer material is no bad thing.  Once people get in the habit of assuming you are a high flier you become one.  If you dress down, talk trivia, don’t pull your weight and act like you are a drudge or a drone you will get accepted as that and stay right where you are.

Look around the office.  Can you spot the drudges and the drones?  The worker ants?  The plodders and the sluggers?  Now look again and spot the high fliers, the heavyweight, the go-getters, the live wires.  Can you see how acting the part makes you that part?  Can you?  Can you?

Whatever step you are preparing for, make sure that everything you do is genuine, real and worthwhile.  I once worked with a young man who was a high flier.  He was preparing for his next step.  He took to coming to work carrying a briefcase when none of his colleagues did – none of us needed one. Trouble is Ray’s briefcase fell open one day and revealed to the entire world that all it contained was his sandwiches, a newspaper and a set of keys.  It was humiliating for him, embarrassing for us and sad for everyone. Make sure your briefcase is full of real stuff just in case this – or anything like it happens to you.
(Excerpts from THE RULES OF WORK by Richard Templer Read “How to Cultivate Diplomacy’” from The Rules tomorrow on Asabeafrika)


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