Career Advice

by Jeff C. Johnson

Shoe shining

One of the things that make a tremendous difference for young people starting out is, as soon as possible, getting the right job and making sure advancement in a career is possible.

What better way to enhance your financial accounts and net worth than being in the right position and getting promoted?

Early in my career, I worked with a military man, and though no longer on active duty, he was an officer in the Navy Reserve. If you’ve been in the military, you know there are levels of bureaucracy and sometimes getting promoted to the next rank is slow. He shared with me the methods he used to stand out, lessons he learned from other officers he had served with that had led to advancement for him in the Navy, as well as in his civilian career.

The first part of what he learned, he told me, was to always look his best. For him, that meant wearing the right clothes … his uniform while on duty and proper dress when he was at his civilian job. Most important, according to him, he shined his shoes every day, and it showed. He wanted to be known for being prepared, on the job, looking his best. He was noticed by the people that he had served under while in uniform. And he kept doing the same things in civilian life, and he had opportunities there, too, as a result.

The second point he made with me represented a very important takeaway for me and for anyone reading this post and thinking about their career advancement possibilities. Over coffee in his office, he asked me, “Can you invest less than an extra hour per week to stand out and gain a much-wanted promotion?” I replied that anyone can do that, but how?

In addition to shining his shoes and paying attention to his attire, he showed up for duty five minutes early every day. He was at his desk, working, when others were arriving for the day. Likewise, he stayed five minutes later at the end of every day. He didn’t clear his desk until everyone else was gone. This never goes unnoticed.

The combination of shiny shoes and investing an extra hour per week gained him many promotions. He invested additional money he earned through his career advancement and built substantial wealth. He even earned a military pension that he started collecting while he was still in the civilian job market.

Doing the same smart, sensible things every day yielded amazing results.

A great book, The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson explains that success can be realized by doing “the little things that are easy to do … or not to do … every day.” Get a copy, read it, and pass it on to someone you care about.