Start Building and Stop Milking Your Asset

“If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room.”

How healthy is your career asset? Are you building it or milking it? Are you staying in your comfort zone, doing the easy, simple projects then dying on the vine and not even knowing about it?

If so, you need to learn and apply the six asset building lessons of business management guru, David Maister. They are as invaluable now as ever.

Maister describes your asset as two things: 1) your inventory of knowledge and skills, and 2) your reputation and client relationships (and not the number but the quality, importance and depth of those relationships that matter).

Sure, building your asset is stressful and not fun, especially when your Blackberry, deadlines, and your boss and clients are demanding. However, when you concentrate on building your asset, you will be rewarded with more valuable knowledge, skills, reputation and relationships as well as more income, bonuses, promotions, and even job retention. Build your asset, build the firm’s asset and increase your value.

Here are Maister’s six lessons (paraphrased for brevity) for building versus milking your asset:

Lesson 1 – Your current knowledge and abilities, which built your career success, will unavoidably depreciate in value unless you actively learn new things and build new skills. Continual professional development is a lifelong requirement, not an option. The days of living off what you’re good at, being promoted and resting on your laurels are over. When you think you know how things work, you’re toast.

Lesson 2 – The health of your asset is not based on volume of business but type of work you do (learning, growing and developing) and who you do it for (earning the trust of key customers). The patterns of your assignments are the development process, and you have to learn how to drive it.

Lesson 3 – No matter how busy you are, you will benefit from engaging and taking charge of your own business growth activities (marketing and selling). Letting others generate the business you work on, puts your career in others’ hands. Relying on business coming to you is “asset milking” versus “asset building.” Marketing and selling is about influencing the quality of your work so that you continue to build your career and asset.

Lesson 4 – Asset building is about proactively leading and managing your affairs for the long-term health of your career. You can’t wait for your organization to create opportunities to build your asset.

Lesson 5 – You can’t automatically assume that what the organization “asks you to do” will appropriately build your asset. When you’re accomplished and talented in a particular area, the organization will refer this type of work to you regularly. If you don’t take charge, others will exploit your asset. You want to be a team player, but you will benefit from learning the balance that makes sense for developing your asset.

Lesson 6 – The best investment is marketing to existing clients. Not only are they more likely to give you new business, but business they give you (if you work to earn it) is likely to promote the value of your skill asset and your client relationships asset.

As these lessons show, building your career asset is in your hands. Study and activate them one at time or in synch NOW! Do it whether you’re employed or looking for a new job. Get outside your comfort zone and value what novelist Jayne Howard says, “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room.