This is a guest article by D. Alan Johnson, his latest book Asgaard explores the role of US military Contractors in far flung parts of the globe. D. Alan Johnson is well equipped to write not only Asgaard, but also this article. He is what he writes about! Since the mid 1980’s he has been a private military contractor – Simon

This is the third article in the series on how to prepare yourself for promotion to top management.  In the first two installments, we talked about education and communication. By learning all you can about your business, and then by communicating that knowledge in a way that increases your worth, you leap ahead of your peers.

This article is more important than the first two, but I wanted you to get prepared first.  The following secret alone will get you a promotion.

The secret, long overlooked, to getting ahead quickly is to contribute. Every old saying speaks of putting in before taking out.

“You reap what you sow.”

“Give and it will be given to you.”

The farmer does not say to the earth, “Give me grain, and then I will plow my field.”

He says, “If I plow and plant, the earth will give me grain.”

But our society has lost sight of that truth. I hear it in my own business. One of the pilots working under me has told me that he will act like an instructor after I promote him. The workplace does not function like that. Put in more than you are paid for.

How do you do that? What opportunities should you look for? Start by getting to work early. Make the coffee. Clean up the kitchen. But tell no one that it was you.

Look for ways to help your coworkers. Be sure that you don’t take credit. The world says, “Blow your own horn. No one else will.” I disagree. Your bosses and your co-workers will see that you are a contributor, not a user. Put in more than you are paid for.

Join Kiwanis or Rotary Club. Be willing to help at community functions. Take on the jobs that no one else wants. Not only will you feel good about helping others, there will be management types from other businesses at those functions. They are looking for good people to hire.

A friend of mine was an entomologist; he studied insects for a corporate farm. A millionaire met him at a Rotary function, and after working with him on several charitable activities, asked him to work as his property manager. My friend said, “I don’t know anything about real estate.”

“I’ll teach you. I don’t need a real estate specialist. I need someone I can trust.” The millionaire doubled my friend’s salary that day.

Look for ways to help others. Don’t keep score. If you are cynical, figuring that if I contribute this, I’ll receive that, people around you will know. Put in more than you are paid for.

Become a teacher. Take on promising persons under you and teach them everything you can to get them ready to move up. Encourage them. Show them those little things that took you years to discover. The great ones in any enterprise are the teachers.

When you become a contributor, the bosses will notice. Be patient. Promotions do not come overnight. But keep contributing, and one day soon, you will get an offer. If your bosses are not smart, that offer may come from another firm. Be patient.

If you really want to get a better position with more vacation, more recognition, and more money, then prepare yourself.

Read and learn.

Communicate that you are ready for advancement in the way that you dress, speak, and write.

Most importantly, contribute to your organization and to the community. Do more than what you are paid to do.

This method has worked for me. If it works for you, let me know.

D. Alan Johnson

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