Seven Inconvenient Career Truths

In all of our careers, there are those truths that perhaps we would rather ignore. Maybe we would rather stay ignorant of them as a whole. Regardless of our feelings toward them, they are ever-present.

While ignorance may be bliss, it is at the detriment of our progress.

To operate at our fullest, most productive capacity, we must examine these truths, cipher through them, and make the changes necessary to thrive. Let’s take a look together.

You must resolve to solve your problems.

My team and I conduct breakthrough calls daily. We dig into career challenges, and we often hear similar stories. These stories include: working 60–80 hours a week, feeling unappreciated, watching coworkers get promoted while feeling stagnant, feeling invisible, being micromanaged, and even waking up in the middle of the night paralyzed with worry regarding the next workday.

The tragedy is that we are constantly ready to help with every call we get, but occasionally, we get calls from those who are not prepared to solve their problems.

Many times, we become comfortable with our problems. We develop coping mechanisms. We tell ourselves it could be worse, and it is okay. We believe not being content with how things are working right now is the real problem.

You must make a firm decision that no matter what happens, you are going to solve this.

Marketing your work is as important as doing it.

This truth is a trigger point for many people. There is a belief that our work should speak for itself. If we put in the effort and work hard enough, we don’t need anything else.

This belief is false.

Don’t downplay what you have done to make things happen. Even when you are showcasing your team, it is vital that you also showcase your leadership.

I have many clients come to me saying they are doing phenomenal work. They are getting things done with an incredibly high standard on time. Yet, they want to know why they are not gaining recognition. Why are they not the ones getting promoted or getting invited to speak? What are they doing wrong?

My reply, “because nobody has even heard about your work.”

People don’t buy the best product; they buy the best product they understand.

Careers are like that.

People don’t get promoted for accomplishments; they get promoted for accomplishments others recognize.

Thinking a few moves ahead will get you ahead.

Disclaimer: life is not always going to be predictable. Sometimes you will plan five moves, and life will take you another route. Yet, there is something to be said about looking at what is important to you and planning how you will get there.

Your career is a chess game. You must always think several steps ahead.

Focusing only on immediate outcomes will not get you to your long-term goals. Instead, ask yourself what projects you can take on to exemplify your skillset. What steps can you take to build your portfolio for when the time comes to showcase it?

Strategize your career and prioritize what is going to set you up for the most success.

You must sow the seeds to reap the reward.

You must put in the work.

A scenario I see most often is a client who sees a need and advocates for a solution. Nobody jumps on board or even sees it as a need. Because of the reaction of others, my client drops the idea entirely, and six months later, a coworker comes through with the same vision, and everyone jumps on board to initiate it.

A significant challenge in the workplace is the desire to give up all too quickly. It is a trap of knowing something is essential to the company, but quitting because it is hard to do the work on your own. It is vital to put in the effort to be so compelling; they cannot say no to you. But even if they do say no, you must be willing to put in the work regardless.

Expecting to get results of the fruit of your labor without the actual labor is a fool’s errand.

There are shortcuts.

Let me say that my previous point was not moot. You have to sow the seeds to reap the reward, but a part of that is realizing there are shortcuts.

Career shortcuts exist. Take them, and invest in learning them from someone who has seen them.

Several coaches have greatly assisted me over the years. They have helped me grow individually and also helped me build and scale Intentional Product Manager.

Without a coach, I could have been working for years and decades without realizing I had the opportunity to take some shortcuts. My career progress has sped along because I had the help of the right people.

Performance psychology is as important as psychology.

Envision something with me for a moment:

You are driving a car to get to a specific destination, and you have just enough time to get there promptly. Perhaps it is a meeting or a friend’s party. You have no idea how to get there, so you get out your phone and input the address. Looking down, you realize you have a significant problem — You have no fuel.

More often than not, I see careers running this same pattern. I see clients with the best maps and strategies, but they have no fuel/performance psychology to get them there. They could take the time to stop for gas, but without having their car fueled first, they’re not going to arrive on time.

The real reward is the person you become.

Many believe that our reward is the job, the achievements, the accomplishments, or the money. I would argue that the real reward is the person we grow to become.

As I have grown as a leader and continued building this business, my coaches have consistently reinforced that everything could get taken away from me at any given moment. Yet, I would be unbothered because I know what I have learned and how much confidence I have built within myself.

If someone takes everything away from me, I know I will recover.

My real reward is the person I have become, my trust in myself, confidence, happiness, and excitement about whatever life throws at me.

If you derive your worth from the title or position you hold, you are not on solid ground. Your worth should be based on your ability to learn and grow.

Choosing not to be ignorant of these truths is the first step, but it takes a lot of work to make the needed changes. We all need proven mentors to cheer us on.

Don’t skip out on this vital step to weaving these truths throughout your career.

If you liked the blog post, you would love my free workshop, “5 Steps our Product Manager Clients Take to Land Their Dream Job, Increase Their Salary by 200%+, and Accelerate Their Career. Go ahead, enroll now!

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Founder at Intentional Product Manager (http://www.intentionalproductmanager.com). Product @Google, @Tamr, @Lattice_Engines, @Adaptly. Worked at @McKinsey

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Shobhit Chugh

Founder at Intentional Product Manager (http://www.intentionalproductmanager.com). Product @Google, @Tamr, @Lattice_Engines, @Adaptly. Worked at @McKinsey