A self-starter is someone who takes action on tasks to keep momentum strong. Through proactively pursuing a goal, a self-starter sets herself up for success. She also helps to inspire others to do the same.

We love this topic. So we decided to sit down with Rafi E. Ahmad, Adjunct Instructor, UMBC ISD Graduate Program. He spoke with us about the importance of being a self-starter.

Traits of a Self-Starter

“One of the best traits a successful professional can possess is to be proactive in everything he/she does,” says Ahmad.

Firstly, he advises that professionals should seek out their career desires. “Don’t wait for your manager to direct you. Pinpoint your own career path. Only you know how something makes you feel.”

Essentially, what inspires one person will not always inspire another. The world is full of possibilities, and it’s your responsibility to seek them out.

“Honestly evaluate your strengths and weakness in the core competencies for your current job. In doing so, you’ll discover your aspirations. Next, compare your strengths and weaknesses with how your manager evaluates them. Do they differ? How? Why? What can you learn from these differences?”

Peer Reviews

Ahmad suggests professionals take the opportunity to conduct a 360 degree feedback evaluation. Include your peers, clients, and any managers with whom regular interaction occurs. Additionally, devise a five-year plan. It can help you get to where you want to go more precisely. The plan should include opportunities to improve skills through on-the-job activities, learning from others, and training. “I recommend that professionals ask their managers for support with on-the-job learning. Ask your manager to assign stretch assignments that allow you to move out of your comfort zone. This will challenge you and create compelling growth. Certainly, this proactive approach is a great way to grow.”

Continue to Learn

Another key piece of advice he offered is to be proactive in learning. Continue to educate yourself by attending learning events that keep skills and knowledge up-to-date.

When workload is down, don’t coast. Use your time more wisely. Approach your manager about an idea that you’d like to lead to improve an inefficient process. This volunteering of information can create new opportunities. “Professionals can offer to lead a company’s volunteer project or lead a training class on a skill that peers have not mastered as well as they have.” Another way to add value in this way is to make suggestions for positive change. Particularly, if you notice a potential risk or issue, bring solutions to the manager. This offers you a chance to shine and show off your capabilities.

“Undeniably, when you are proactive and a self-starter, an organization will see you as having great value,” Ahmad said.

Finally, being a self-starter can lead to a brighter future. Essentially, when all actions point you in a direction that is consistent with growth and achievement, you will succeed. Others will take note. And, you will positively affect the world around you.

Always in Learning Mode,

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