Today I recall a few things that happened to me in the past, small things you might say, but each casting a much bigger impact in my career. Let me share two such examples.
When I joined my first corporate job in 1995, I had a tendency to do my job by myself, rarely reaching out to other people or teams. I vividly recall my manager giving me a friendly advise as to how my reputation and advancement, etc. depended not just on what/how I did, but also on how well those around me recognize and support my contributions. This sounded a little strange and uncomfortable at that time. Nonetheless, I decided to make a conscious effort to increase my network, connections and visibility. About 4 years later, I remember walking at the Radiology tradeshow in Chicago, and a colleague who was with me remarked how I seem to know almost everyone on the show floor. That's when it struck me that the change had happened - although I am not totally sure exactly how. All I can say is that one statement from my manager had made a profound enough mark in me leading to this.
My second example is when I was nominated to become the co-chairman of the Asian Pacific American Forum within GE Healthcare. This was another uncomfortable situation, as prior to that, I had focused solely on job-related activities, rather than what I considered to be extra-curricular or peripheral items. I accepted this role somewhat reluctantly, worried about it causing distraction in time and effort. Well, as with my first example, this turned out to be a pivotal turn in my career. Not only it helped me gain vital leadership experience and skills, it also gave me very high-level exposure to senior leaders and customers. I had the privilege of co-leading an annual summit, as well as many key business, leadership and customer events. To say this experience had a profound impact on my later career will be an understatement.
As I reflect on these two examples, I realize two key things... first, both began with someone else around me recognizing my strengths and weakness, and willing to help me become a better person. Second, I would never have anticipated that these would end up playing such big role in my leadership and career development.
So while you chase the career ladder - Just remember - small things can indeed lead to big impact!