Every two years you anticipate watching the Olympics. You enjoy seeing athletes at the top of their game. When an American wins a medal, you feel strong pride in our country. Although you're far from being a star athlete, you can't help but wonder what it must feel like to be adorned with a gold medal-to have many admire you and to be viewed as a role model.

While hard work and achievements in your field may not be recognized by a large international audience, every profession has its shining stars. So how can you rise to such a high status in your profession?

John Baldoni, consultant/author/speaker, Baldoni Consulting, LLC, Ann Arbor, MI, advised first determining who you admire in your profession and why. Is it their teaching, their books or their colleagues' respect? Review their life stories. How did they achieve success? Did they pursue higher education or fellowships or start a business? If so, are you willing to walk the road they took?

Keep in mind that if you benchmark, you can only achieve the mark, not exceed it, Baldoni said. It is valuable to compare yourself to others, but remember, you should strive to create your own path. Do what is good for yourself. For example, if you obtain fulfillment from spending a lot of time with your family, you may not wish to devote many years to higher education or more than a year to writing a book. Focus on what is important to you and do it.

Baldoni prescribes taking the following actions to excel in your field.

Write-Organize thoughts and express ideas and back them with facts. Opinions are fine, but as you progress in the field, facts are better. Learn about what you know by writing about it.

Publish-Share ideas with others. Write articles for trade journals or Web sites. ADVANCE always welcomes contributions. This is how your name becomes recognizable.

Speak-Spread your message by speaking in public. Speaking gigs are also great for public recognition.

Mentor-Mentoring is a form of sharing what you know, teaching what you have learned and helping others advance.

Network-Networking is another form of sharing. By meeting and mingling with colleagues, you spread your ideas and reputation. You also gain from learning from other professionals.

Other Paths to Stardom
To shine in your profession, Marjorie Brody, MA, CSP, CMC, founder and fearless leader, Brody Communications Ltd., Jenkintown, PA, said you must have technical competence. In other words, be good at what you do, be open to stretching yourself, learn new things and constantly update your knowledge and skills. Also, be a team player. This includes characteristics such as having a positive attitude, managing expectations and helping others to be successful.

Obtaining recognition in your profession also involves paying attention to individuals at all levels. The magazine tycoon Malcolm Forbes once said there are no unimportant people. He respected the value and contributions of each individual within the organization. Brody agrees. Treat all team members with respect, she said. Also, demonstrate leadership capabilities whether you have the title or not.

Carl Robinson, PhD, principal, Advanced Leadership Consulting, Seattle, WA, believes the primary path to stardom in your profession is to be helpful and gracious while providing value without asking for anything in return.

Whenever the opportunity arises, pass on something of value, e.g., mail a colleague a relevant article, provide a referral or offer helpful advice. Develop a reputation as an authority in a subject you are passionate about by writing articles, op-ed pieces and giving talks. "I am always impressed whenever I meet a senior colleague, who may even be famous, who relates to me as an equal with no pretense," Dr. Robinson said. "Gracious people cultivate lasting memories and relationships that flourish."

Dr. Robinson also believes it is important to be a part of your community. Volunteer for a public service or non-profit organization. "You can either be a part of it or a leader," he noted. As a health care professional, you can volunteer locally or abroad at a low-cost or free clinic.

And while technical competency is a key attribute, interpersonal, motivational and leadership skills also hold high rank, Dr. Robinson said. In the health care profession, you can exhibit such skills by responding in a concise and quick manner to all communications, implementing methods to motivate co-workers or employees and guiding those who need direction.

Measuring Success
Many ways exist to measure success. You will stand tall in your profession by publishing and speaking, Baldoni said. You will stand tall among peers when making yourself and your work available to enrich others via mentoring.

If you measure success against the giants of your field and you achieve those milestones, i.e., writing books or teaching engagements, you have arrived, Baldoni maintained. Real success is the ability to say, "Yes, this is what is important to me. I am proud of what I have done and what I have done for others."

In Brody's opinion, measuring success is a personal decision. For some people, their passion is to do a good job, whereas others may yearn for a supervisory role. When you stop enjoying your work and don't have a personal life, it's out of balance and time to step back and re-evaluate. "Success from my perspective is when all things are in alignment," Brody said.

So as you watch the Olympic games with pride, remember that you can find similar achievement in your profession if you're willing, just like an Olympian, to put in the time, work harder than most in the field and commit to your goal.

Resources
Baldoni, J. Personal leadership: Taking control of your work life. Rochester Hills, MI: Elsewhere Press, 2001.

Baldoni J. & Harvey E. 180 Ways to walk the motivation talk. Dallas, TX: Walk the Talk Company, 2002.

Brody M. Career MAGIC: A woman's guide to reward & recognition. Jenkintown, PA: Career Skills Press, 2004.

Karen Appold is a freelance medical writer and editor based in suburban Philadelphia. To learn more about her services, visit www.WriteNowServices.com. Contact her at kappold@msn.com.


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