Be a Shortcut:
The Secret Fast Track to Business Success
By Scott Halford
“If we want to
deserve more, we have to provide more.”
Qubein, author, speaker, and president, High Point University
Due to economic conditions, a sort of “Business Darwinism” is
taking over in most organizations – survival of the fittest – as
excess is trimmed and only the necessary survive. This means
companies are making decisions about who will keep the organization
afloat during lean times, and now, more than ever before, employees
have the ability to secure their own futures. That is, if they are
those who are the indispensable, go-to resource their company can’t
live without: a Shortcut.
It makes good sense to take stock of your worth and influence
as a business professional during these scary times, and as you do,
take notice of those who are making it and living the lives they
want. Chances are they’re all remarkable Shortcuts to their internal
and external clients … not shortcuts of the easy-way-out variety,
shoddy quality or questionable ethics, but rather Shortcuts with a
capital “S”: Individuals who are the professionals their company
can’t live without.
We Need You!
an enormous need for Shortcuts because employees are being asked to
do the added work of those laid-off in this recession. Shortcuts are
the ones called upon because they were willing, during better times,
to work at a few things very passionately and personably.
Consider that more people have access to more information
than any other time in history. The astonishing level of information
overload, while still needing to act and react with speed, brings
about intense worldwide competition and more constantly stressed-out
lives as a by-product. It’s more difficult to even be an average
Enter you – the Shortcut. As one, you: Carve out your only
little fiefdom – coddle it, study it, write about it, talk about it
and get up the next morning and do it again. You become consistently
good and gracious at what you do and others trust you. You are the
reliable lawn service; the Grease Monkey down the street; the
administrator who predicts her boss’s needs and then exceeds them;
the vice president who mentors a team by teaching individuals what
she knows and then encourages them to go beyond that point. You are
who others instantly think of when they need a particular skill or
service or to find a specific piece of valid information in the sea
of data. You’re there as a resource and sometimes a reassurance as
they wade through the piles of things they need to be effective.
The need for Shortcuts is high and there is a formula that
you can follow to help you think about how to be a better Shortcut.
There are a few
simple things to consider in terms of being an invaluable Shortcut.
Here’s the first part of the formula. People use Shortcuts most
They don’t have
lacking talent or skill in a needed area
to do something is low
Lack of time, talent and/or desire indicates a good
opportunity for a Shortcut. Ask if your service or job falls into
one of these areas. The other part of the formula is when, as a
Shortcut, you make other’s lives:
Easier, because they don’t have to do the legwork
Better, because the quality of their life goes up, or they
look good to those they wish to impress
because they make more money
Frame your job, service or product in a way that it addresses
this part of the formula and your influence and value go up. Of
course, you have to add a big dose of positive attitude and
emotional intelligence that make dealing with you such a pleasure.
Let’s take a look at the two ingredients of a Shortcut: expertise
and emotional intelligence.
Be “The Expert”:
Shortcut understands intuitively what trend-forecaster, John
Naisbitt, predicted in the late 1980s about success in the
millennium. He said the individuals and organizations that can
organize and make useful the proliferation of information will be
the most successful and profitable of the 21st century.
Naisbitt was right– he was talking about being the
Shortcut, the expert, the go-to person in his or her own little
corner of an industry who can find and distill the right information
at the right time to the right people in the right way. These people
create the lives they want because they’ve done something the
average professional isn’t willing to do: They commit themselves
deeply and with fierce focus in a very specialized area. They strive
to become experts, no matter the topic area. They essentially become
the Google of their business. The first step is to find what you
love to do and then research it and practice it so you’re the
“household” name where you work.
Expertise is only a
part of the equation; Shortcuts also have high emotional
intelligence (EI). EI is the set of attributes that predict a
person’s workplace and life success better than IQ and technical
expertise, and like IQ, your EI can be measured. But, unlike IQ, you
can grow your EI through practice and coaching. Don’t misunderstand;
IQ and expertise are necessary to get you in the door, but think
about it – the people you work with are about as smart as the next
person, so intelligence isn’t the differentiator.
Research in human performance conclusively shows the big
difference is in being able to deal well with the day-to-day hassles
and adverse events that come your way. Those who don’t cope well
usually have bad attitudes and inappropriate approaches to even the
simplest requests. There’s nothing worse than a really smart person
who makes you feel like an idiot. Shortcuts understand their purpose
in life isn’t to show off their knowledge and expertise, but rather
to use them to teach others and to create simplicity in other’s
lives. In doing so, they use excellent common sense and the social
graces that make them magnetic.
All things equal, most people will use a subject matter
expert who exhibits excellent emotional intelligence in difficult
situations over the creepy expert who blows his top over a simple
request for services.
Be a Shortcut. When you are, you’ll build the life you want
because you’re giving time and peace of mind back to others so that
they can build the life they want. In this economy, that’s the
surest bet you can make.
to Be a Shortcut:
area of expertise. It should give you a good deal of
passion. Study it. Read at least an article or chapter a day
in that area. In 12 months, you’ll be smarter than most
about that topic.
co-workers what they think you’re best at. It may surprise
you. Your natural talents may not be apparent to you.
mentor in your area of expertise and learn as much from them
emotional intelligence (EI). Get your EI measured and then
work on getting better at it.
something that makes someone else successful. You will become
magnetic and more successful yourself.
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