How to be a Rock Star at Work

05/27/2015 03:44 pm ET | Updated May 26, 2016

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I have always wanted to succeed, but I did not always understand how. At times, it made me feel like less of a person or a failure. Until I joined the Army in 2002, I was fired or forced to resign from many very well paying jobs. I always had the ability to make a great first impression and get hired. My ability to succeed in these positions was woefully inadequate. I needed to learn how to connect the dots between potential and performance.

How did I transform from being an unhappy, (and fired) employee, to becoming a successful and satisfied member of a team (a rock star)? I discovered my passion and purpose and intentionally began connecting it with my professional life.

Here are some tips that will help you, too, to become a rock star at work.

Carefully Choose Who YOU Hire to Employ You

This point might ruffle a few feathers. I agree. For some, it may seem counter-intuitive. How can someone who just needs to pay the bills be picky? My question to you is "How can you afford not to?"

Take a moment and think about the thoughts the following phrases conjure up. Sleepwalking, checked out, unhappy, undermine, and lack of energy or passion. In my mind sleepwalking immediately brings to mind "The Walking Dead" -a whole bunch of people walking around aimlessly. They don't know what they're doing or why; they just do it because they have to.

Does this sound like a group of people you would like to work with? Would you like to work for organizations whose employees described themselves in these terms? More importantly, would you be happy and healthy working in such an environment?

When I "check out", I pretty much don't care anymore. Helping customers or doing my job is no longer my priority; I am just going through the motions. I go to work with one thing in mind, going home. The amount of sleep I get seems irrelevant. I go to work devoid of energy hoping I can survive another day. Our happiness and health affect our productivity. If we cannot produce, how can we be rock stars?

Cultivate Emotional Intelligence

The times are changing. Organizational structures are becoming flatter and more intertwined. Top down, command and control hierarchies are becoming a thing of the past. Collaboration amongst team members is a requirement for success. Getting along with our coworkers is more important now than ever. Gone are the days where we slog away in our office with the door closed.

Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Internal Motivation, Empathy, and Social Skills are the key components of emotional intelligence. Understanding our emotions and how they affect our teams is paramount. Equally as important is understanding our purpose and how it connects to the organization. Building this source of internal motivation prevents us from becoming "The Walking Dead."

People are beautiful and sophisticated; we are products of our environments, unique cultures, and unique circumstances that change almost daily. Empathy allows us to connect with people on their individual level. Last but not least our social skills help us manage our relationships and build synergies.

More and more companies today place a premium on emotionally intelligent employees. The bottom line is it affects their bottom line. Emotionally intelligent workers are more likely to connect with people (clients and coworkers), make great leaders because they can empathize with diverse personalities throughout the organization, and they don't take themselves too seriously.

Be Grateful

Yes, it is true. The studies indicate a majority of the workforce has joined the walking dead. They lack passion, purpose, and energy. They go to work because they have to pay the bills. Like I did for many years they go to working wanting to go home. Is this you?

If so, then I would advise you to take a deep breath and relax. Our feelings and the studies I mention above have something in common. Both are indicators of how things currently are. The good news is we can change our current situation and impact the future at the same time.

Why? Changing our mindset and cultivating an attitude of gratitude reduces stress. It frees us to understand the reality of our situation and energizes us to begin designing our extraordinary life. In other words, how can we connect work with our passion and purpose?

Take Initiative

Our leaders are not short of problems. They are short of people who can solve them. Identifying problems is easy, and most people are good at it. The more desirable skill is problem-solving. Before you point out the problem, devise a range of possible solutions. Better yet, work with peers to identify problems and develop solutions!

If you want to be a rock star at work SOLVE PROBLEMS!

Cultivate Synergy

We are in this together. Whether we realize it or not the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Have you ever played tug of war? What happens when individuals don't participate? Those who are pulling have to work harder. They might still be successful, but fewer people have to work harder. We burn out easier and overtime we begin to resent those still on the team and not pulling their weight.

Each of us has our own story, our own trials, and it affects us all in different ways. We don't live in a bubble and at any time any one of us could be struggling. Creating synergy requires tapping into a specific aspect of our emotional intelligence, empathy. Do you really want to be a rock star at work?

If so take time, connect with people, and build synergy.

Being a rock star involves so much more than intellectual capacity or technical competence. Understanding your passion, your purpose, and how they relate to the organization are the first steps. Next you have to make a commitment to affect change. Not within the organization but yourself. Then you have to commit to connecting with people, building synergies, and solving problems.

Are you ready to accept the challenge and become a rock star?