When prepping my students and clients to network or interview for an ideal job opportunity, I encourage them to showcase their sparkle factor. This is the palpable characteristic that highlights their passion, strengths and authentic interest in the opportunity at hand. The energy you emit is profound when you tap your sparkle factor and this visceral emotion should not be reserved for the job interview alone.
Finding your sweet spot in the career world can be daunting, but the responsibility lies with you alone to play to your strengths and honor your passions in the job you are in or the job you may be seeking.
Identifying what makes you unique requires self-reflection and focus -- so get quiet with yourself. Turn off the monkey chatter in your brain and slow down so you will be able to identify what makes you sparkle. Protect your sparkle fiercely in your professional life. This is what makes you unique, what energizes you, and what gives the countless waking hours you spend at work meaning and a sense of purpose.
Know Your Distinguishing Factors - What sets you apart from the pack? Truly consider your strengths and the energizing skills that you enjoy performing. It's not enough to be good at something -- you must really relish doing it consistently. This is when time flies because you lose yourself in these wonderful tasks. When you can become the go-to person in your organization because of what you do uniquely well then you can distinguish yourself and become indispensable.
Learn to Bob and Weave - if you are not a boxing fan, you may not know the origin of this term, but the concept is universal. You must be quick on your feet, flexible, and ready to innovate in changing situations. In other words -- roll with the punches. The new normal has taught us that resilience matters and showcasing your sparkle factor may provide growth and leadership opportunities if you distinguish yourself as the professional who is at-the-ready to do what it takes to accomplish organizational goals.
Toxic People Can Steal Your Power - positivity is infectious but so is negativity. Minimize the toxic associations in your life and give yourself permission to play to your strengths and focus on what you do well. Power is not given, it's taken so never let the toxic people steal your thunder or undermine your value. Be assertive, self-confident and fiercely protective of your sparkle factor. Establish a work culture of having a good day or a great day -- both are very strong options and will diminish negative attitudes.
Ask for What You Need - the most successful people have a team helping them achieve their goals. Assemble your Personal Board of Directors and don't be timid about asking for help. Can you do it all? Yes, but not alone, and not at the same time. Tap your tribe and pay-it-forward by having the back of someone else. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It's a wise distribution of what you do really well. Delegation can provide someone else with an opportunity and it empowers you to do what nobody else can.
Command Respect - there will always be people who are fearful and manipulative who may try and squelch your sparkle. Strive to earn their respect since it's more important than being liked by them in the workplace. You need not win the office popularity contest, but it would be ideal if you earned your colleagues' respect. People accept what you project, so it's your responsibility to teach them how to treat you. Consider what professional persona you want to put out into the world. How do you want to be recognized? Send that message out loud and clearly to those around you.
Bring it On - showcasing your sparkle is energizing for you and contagious for your colleagues. Consider how you dig deep and deliver. Discuss what motivates you and your colleagues. If you are in a leadership role be sure to ask your staff what makes them sparkle so you can recognize and validate them for a job well done. Employee engagement or lack there of is a top factor in retaining or losing great talent.
Love What You Do - it all boils down to honoring your values and playing to your passions on a regular basis. If you are in a role where you cannot showcase your sparkle it may be time to consider your career future.
You alone have the power to embrace your strengths, own your self-confidence, and engage your sparkle factor. Spend some time reflecting on what makes you tick. You deserve to sparkle so once you find it -- protect it for the precious commodity that it is.
Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book "This Is Not the Career I Ordered" and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name www.carolinedowdhiggins.com She is the Director of Career & Professional Development and Adjunct Faculty at Indiana University Maurer School of Law and hosts the national CBS Radio Show Career Coach Caroline on Tuesdays at 5pm ET Caroline also contributes to AOL Jobs, CNN Money, and More Magazine online.