When the photo of the company plane appeared in my “memories” section of my social media feed, I remembered the trip back home that day so vividly.  I was so tired, but not because it had been a whirlwind trip with the senior leadership team through several cities visiting various restaurant locations.

I was tired of being the only one. As I looked around the plane, and saw the others leaders huddled together reviewing the latest growth strategy, I wondered if the growth would include more people that looked like me, people bringing a unique perspective.

Because I was tired in more ways than one, I made a mistake.  I sat on the sidelines that day. I did not push my way into the huddle, but instead observed from a seat a few feet away. If you are trying to Crush Your Career, you can never afford to choose the sideline. Often we end up there frequently enough without choice. Never choose to not be in the game. Click To TweetIf you are trying to Crush Your Career, you can never afford to choose the sideline. Often we end up there frequently enough without choice. We should never choose to not be in the game. There were times when I was excluded, but that day was not one of them and I missed it. The following is some advice that might have helped me that day:

6 Ways to Increase Your Influence

  1. Never quit on the field. We were flying for hours in a very small aluminum tube. I don’t think they excluded me as much as I excluded myself on that particular day. I could have left my seat and crouched down in the aisle or squeezed on to the bench seat with them and joined the conversation. Instead, I was content in my comfortable seat believing I should have been invited.
  2. Don’t wait to be invited. I was on the plane. I had a seat at the “table.” I did not need to wait to be invited to the conversation. It was up to me to make my presence known and my voice heard.
  3. Always be prepared to contribute. As a leader in your organization, it is your responsibility to know what the big issues are throughout the organization beyond your area of expertise. Develop a point of view, substantiated in facts, and be prepared to share it when the opportunity arises. If the opportunity does not arise, then make one.
  4. Share your message with confidence. Speak up and interject your perspective based on your experiences. If you are interrupted, don’t stop talking. Finish your thought and don’t allow others to shut you down. It’s your turn to speak, so be sure you are heard.
  5. Don’t talk just for air time. Your effectiveness, especially if you are the “only one” will be limited if you talk just for the sake of checking it off the list. Be intentional every time you open your mouth to add value to the conversation.
  6. Adjust your body language. Exude confidence that you have earned the opportunity to be in the conversation. Don’t second guess your own competency. You would not be in the seat if you don’t have the capability to deliver. You have a role to play and it requires that everything about you communicates that you are capable and engaged.

The next opportunity afforded me the chance to approach the situation differently. I applied some of these very steps I mention here. Sometimes, we learn our most  valuable lessons come from our mistakes. I have offered you one of mine to learn from so that you can be more influential and ultimately, more successful.

You can make mistakes and still Crush Your Career, but some are harder to recover from than others. If you find yourself in a position of being “the only one,” these suggestions can help you be more effective and influential than I was on the plane that day.

If you want to learn more about how to Crush Your Career, pre-order my newest book here:

Crush Your Career: Ace the Interview, Land the Job and Launch Your Future

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