Being in the Right Place at the Right Time
Dwight Eisenhower Theory
We sometimes find ourselves in challenging situations that require extraordinary efforts and push us to reach into the depths of our knowledge, resourcefulness and ingenuity. We may say to ourselves “If I knew that this position had so many challenges and issues, I would not have accepted it.” Dwelling on the challenges of the moment can lead us to overlooking the opportunity for the future.
Let’s discuss how to choose and leverage challenging situations to support your professional development and career advancement.
For professional development and career advancement, opportunity is being at the right place, at the right time and with the right people. Place relates to one of the 4 Ps of the marketing mix that originated in the late 1940s and became a framework for modern-day marketing. (The other 3 Ps are Product, Price, and Promotion.)
As a manager of people during my corporate career and in my coaching practice, I have encouraged individuals and clients to utilize Place as a key component for career advancement. I relate this advice in what I call the Eisenhower Theory.
The theory states that Dwight Eisenhower would never have been President of the United States if it were not for World War II.
Dwight Eisenhower was not promoted to the rank of brigadier general (the lowest rank for a general in the Army) until October 1941, 2 months before Pearl Harbor and the entry of the United States into World War II. There were several generals including Douglas MacArthur, George Patton and Omar Bradley who held higher ranks and had much more impressive resumes. However, Dwight Eisenhower had that combination of interpersonal, leadership and organizational skills that were needed to deal with the great challenges presented by World War II, especially getting the challenging personalities of General Patton, Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle to work together. World War II was the right time and the right place for Dwight Eisenhower. It enabled him to use his skills, capabilities and attributes to his advantage.
World War II also placed Dwight Eisenhower with the right people. He was able to build a staff of people and establish relationships that allowed him to leverage his strengths and cover his personal challenges. Those people were individuals whose traits and styles were compatible with those of Eisenhower. This compatibility is often referred to as personal chemistry.
Eisenhower’s rise to the rank of 5 Star General, appointment as Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe, and the allies winning World War II became his launching pad for his election as President of the United States.
How can you identify and leverage the right place, time, and people to support your career advancement? I recommend 3 steps.
- Set career goals.
- Plot the path for achieving your goals.
- Get support to help you migrate your path.
Effective or game changing goals are established based on your strengths, values, and skills. Use your strengths, values, and skills to set the criteria for situations in which you can thrive.
Your path to achieving your goals is your professional development plan. Your plan should leverage what you have and determine what you need to acquire to accomplish your goals. Your plan can serve as your filter for determining opportunities that you should pursue (your World War II opportunities). Without a plan to achieve your goals, you leave your destiny to events and the fate of others doing what they think is best for you or what is best for them. This may not be the best for you. You get positioned rather than positioning yourself. (We live according to a plan, our plan or someone else’s.)
Check out situations before you accept them. Supplement the filtering capability of your professional development plan with advice from individuals who have traveled the road ahead of you. This advice can be provided by establishing your personal board of directors. The mightiest companies in the world have advisors. Why shouldn’t you?
Also, set expectations with individuals who will rate or assess your performance before entering situations. Ensure that what they expect and what you expect are the same.
Choose your situations and do not let the challenge of the moment to overshadow the opportunity for the future.
Contact Fields of Success to schedule a discussion. Fields of Success offers complimentary coaching sessions.
Linwood Bailey is a career coach and the author of The Business of Me: Your Job … Your Career … Your Value. The Business of Me provides a career management and information resource designed for today’s business professional. Since 2008, Linwood has enabled business professionals to manage their most important economic asset—their careers. Linwood, the been there coach, provides innovative and practical career management solutions derived from his 34 years of experience managing functions and people in multiple industries, regions, and corporate cultures.