You Can't Get Ahead Without This ONE Skill

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If you scan the past blog posts on Latina Cubicle Confidential you'll know that there is a lot I've written about creating a career map, developing your executive presence, work life blend strategies (not balance), resilience and managing your boss.  These are, among others, fundamental to your success, Mujeres.  Underneath all that however is a skill that cuts across many dimensions of your work life and how you leverage the career tactics covered here.   

What is that one skill? ---its your critical thinking strategies.  

What is this?  It's how you go about making decisions.  It's how you size up the opportunities or the challenges ahead of you.  And, it's about how you determine facts from opinions or yes, total fiction.  

Companies spend a lot money working through their business strategies using consulting firms that provide many models of how to position a product or service for market growth.  They also spend a lot of money on how to analyze their internal business processes for optimum efficiency.  For your career, critical thinking skills influence the strategy you will use to be competitive and successful as CEO of YOU, Inc.  Here just one example.  When you are presented with the opportunity to take a special project on the job--without a promotion or more pay---its pretty normal to ask yourself, why would I take on that kind of an assignment if it means more work for no increase in pay?  Mira no mas.  This kind of situation for many of us can trigger a sense of being taken advantage of by our employer.  It is a normal reaction in our community.  Many Latinos experience bias and so we are constantly on guard about being exploited.   

But critical thinking skills would require that you look at this situation through a different lens.   Is this assignment an opportunity or a liability?  Maybe my boss is looking to help me grow into a leadership role.  Maybe this assignment will help me learn a skill that I can add to my LinkedIn profile and position me for more success. Maybe this project can lead to something better for my career.

So what's your approach?  First, get the facts.  Do other people at your work place get positioned for success through these assignments?  Ask people you admire if they were asked to do this kind of work, too. Ask your boss, how do you see this as part of my career development?  What would you like this to do for my role here?  Take your emotions out of this and get beyond the assumptions you are drawing from the situation with as much data as possible from as many angles as you can.   

Next, make sure you look at the consequence of doing the project and the consequence of not doing the project.  This is all about assessing opportunity costs to you personally and professionally. What is an "opportunity cost"?  It's the cost of actually doing this work--materials, time and otherwise--and the cost of NOT being able to take on any other opportunities while your time is devoted to the project.  Its also the cost to your professional life if you are seen by your boss as unwilling to take a risk or take on the effort as part of the normal expectations placed on you or your team. 

There is only so much time each day to get through your work and life responsibilities. Assessing opportunity costs is a critical step in your decision making about any new venture. Taking on the project is going to require a commitment to do and to be completely professional--living up to your commitments--you cannot say yes to the project and then blow it off. Eso no se hace!  And, during the project you may not be able to participate in another efforts--volunteering for a nonprofit, start a home project, or start a class.  While all of those are important the question is can those be started at any time?  Will they still be there after the project is done? Is there something I will actually lose? Is there more to be gained by doing this? 

Critical thinking skills ultimately help you make the most out of the opportunities that come your way. Here is a list of the skills involved and the here is a website by a physician turned blogger who devotes a lot of pages to different decision making strategies and the influences that can make for bad decisions in life.  Let me know how you are living your VIDA con ganas!!! Andale! Maria

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