You’re good at your job. You come in early and stay late, doing what is asked of you and yielding results. You’re doing everything that those before you said would lead to success, and yet your career is at a standstill. It turns out that it may have less to do with hitting your quarterly goals and more to do with how you’re perceived at work. Don’t get me wrong, being able to quantify your accomplishments is important, but so is your personal brand.
Take Usain Bolt, for example. Recently earning his third consecutive 100m gold medal at the 2016 Olympics Games, he is an obvious sprinting stand out, but his persona goes far beyond the track. Bolt’s likability and way with the crowd have elevated his career, earning him worldwide recognition as one of the most famous athletes of all time.
To help you cross your own career finish line, here are 4 lessons from Usain Bolt:
If Bolt’s personality was that of a brick wall, he wouldn’t have landed sponsorships from brands like Puma, Gatorade, Visa and Nissan Motors. Likeable athletes and professionals are given more opportunities for advancement. Studies show that developing a friendly, positive approach not only makes you more likable, but can enhance your performance as well. You’re in control of your personal brand, so if needed, re-align your communication and leadership styles to reflect what you want to be known for at work.
One of the most unique things about Usain Bolt is the way he can command a crowd. From the moment he steps on the track, his genuine showmanship is greeted with roaring applause from fans not just from Jamaica, but from all around the world. He has built a kind of rapport that cannot be matched – something you should strive for in your own networking. Take an interest in those outside of your team, company and industry. Flex your interpersonal skills and get to know them. You never know when you will need their support, so start connecting to build out your network.
Going in to each heat, Bolt is visibly relaxed (as the world’s fastest man would be). But that confidence comes from years of hard work, dedication and training. This is something you can mimic in your own career by being proactive. The worst thing you can do is walk into a meeting unprepared, so make sure you are always well-researched, aware of deadlines and anticipating the needs of those around you. Giving more than what is expected will make you stand out.
Dominant in his individual sprinting events, Bolt could rely solely on himself to take home a medal or championship. Instead, he has also competed alongside his teammates in the 100m relay, an effort requiring more than just speed. Teamwork allows for a shared workload and is often a learning experience, so don’t hesitate to take part in group projects and if possible, initiate them. Working with others requires patience and a constant flow of communication. Showcasing these skills to others can open the door for leadership opportunities in the future.