By LTC Beatriz Florez, U.S. Army Reserve, Suicide Prevention Coordinator, VA Puget Sound Healthcare System
I have been fortunate to have found success in both my career as a military officer and a licensed clinical social worker. It is important that we as a community share our keys to success to pave the way for our future leaders. I have applied the following principles to both my careers, and I think if you apply them, you too can find success:
Be Value Added
When you are hired or selected for a position, the organization is investing in you. You can either be an asset or a liability. Find ways to add value to the organization like taking on a project or becoming the subject matter expert in a field or process. At a minimum, you can add value to any team by being solution-focused and a team player.
Move the Needle
A way to get recognized is by moving the needle toward an organizational goal or objective. Take the time to meet with your supervisor and understand what their focus is or what the goals are for the fiscal year. Pick one of those objectives and work hard towards making a significant improvement in that area and refining the process. Then move on to the next objective. Just be careful not to take on too much at a time.
Master Your Craft
You should always strive to be a lifetime learner and master your craft. Commit yourself to doing your homework. One-third: take the tough jobs; one-third: maintain your education; one-third: self-study. Take the time to think critically. Learn the most common logical fallacies and their warning signs. Keep an open mind and be accepting of change.
It does not matter how long you have been in a profession; you still have things to learn. Assuming you know the answer before you hear the question creates blind spots. By staying curious you not only learn more about yourself, your job, and the organization, you also signal to others that you care. It is through curiosity that you can find ways to help the organization improve by generating new ideas, nurturing innovation, and creating solutions.
Build a Network
In any job, your ability to build relationships and develop a strong network is very important. You want to have a network of people that can aid you in getting the job done. You also want to have a network of peers that challenge and inspire you. In both my fields, I have a strong network and without them I would not be where I am now.
It is impossible to finish every task every day. You can couch at the end of the day and get to sleep by having a realistic goal. As long as I know that I did my absolute best, I can put an end to the day without any worries. There is an old saying in the Army Reserve: Family, Civilian Career, Military Career; pick two. This acknowledges that you cannot be in three places at once and that something has got to give. Wherever you are spending your time, you will be ignoring something else. This is something you learn to accept. Manage your priorities and set boundaries!