05/16/2012 03:17 pm ET Updated Jul 16, 2012

Optimizing Your Talents for Future Success

Optimization means to enhance the effectiveness of something; to make something function at its best. Optimization is like having your skills and attitudes on steroids (in a good way)!

When I read the definition of optimization, I immediately think of two things:
  1. Part of my "job" is being brought into companies by senior leaders to help make their administrative partners function at their best. I have all the tools and answers to help administrative professionals be successful. Whether or not they choose to listen to me, take my advice, trust me, and be willing to adopt new better behaviors, is another story. I can't make anyone change anything just like when I hear a speaker or read great information; it's up to me to make the change.
  2. Part of my "job" is to work with already-successful executives and their executive assistants to enhance their effectiveness. This is where I go on-site and work with leaders and their assistants one-on-one. I watch what they do, hear what they say, learn their processes, and basically "get inside their heads." When I do this, I can best help that team.
What does this mean to you? As a business professional, you need to embrace this idea of optimization. I'm certain you already do a great job at work. The idea is... are you moving yourself to your very best potential? Are you fully engaged? Do you push through difficult tasks and assignments that you normally don't like? Have you taken classes this year that advance your already-good skills? Yes, we all need a nudge sometimes. "We need an outsider to tell us stop being lazy and get on with it. You know what you need to do; you're just taking the easy way out." Let me give you an example:

For me, personally, I wrote the Star Achievement Series Certificate and CEAP designation curriculum in 1990. This Star Series consists of 12 full-day workshops, three levels of learning. There are 12 workbooks ranging in size from 50 to 70 pages each. I have revised the contents and learning activities 15 times in 20 years!

Repeatedly people tell me how great Star Achievement is! Yes, I know there is more. I know I can write an even better program. I know I have more within me to share and give and teach. There is always room for improvement.

I regularly optimize something that is already great. And with that, I am growing because I have to challenge what I already know. I have to challenge my own thinking and say, "What am I going to do that will WOW attendees? What new material do I need to add? Is this information still current? Do I really know what the business trends are right now?" These force me to do research, talk to people, survey people, read books; thus making myself better, smarter, and more valuable to my clients.

How many times in the past 15 years have you updated you? How many enhancements have you made to yourself? One? Five? 15? Are you constantly optimizing you?

I know far too many assistants who have been in the administrative profession for 20-plus years and have hardly changed. If this is you, it's time to wake up! You are not being all you are capable of being. We are all here to become better... to contribute to the greater good... we are not designed to be stagnant, vanilla, boring, or lazy.

For those of you who are new to the profession... great! You are young enough or novice enough to start setting good paradigms for yourself. You are like the seed of a tree that is newly planted. How you grow, how tall you grow, how strong you grow is up to you. Make sure you stay away from bad soil. Don't be influenced by people who might be negative about the the industry, the company, even your chosen profession. For many of the clients I work with they often come in contact with coworkers or even peers who are negative about the administrative profession. This profession is fabulous. It is interesting, challenging, fun and offers great opportunity. Make sure you fertilize your thinking so you can grow and then occasionally apply 'booster fertilizer' (this is turbo-charged fertilizer) -- meaning, OPTIMIZE yourself and everything you do.

When you fully utilize all of your talents and capacities you begin to function at your best because. You will be able to focus on the work you do that brings value to the company and impacts the organization's bottom line. And one of the greatest gifts to yourself is that you will be a more joyous, fulfilled individual which will spread to other aspects of your life.