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Bookshelf: Conquer Career Hurdles

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

Discipline and direction: These are among the favorite themes of Laura Berman Fortgang in Take Yourself to the Top (Warner Books, 1998). A career coach for the past five years, Fortgang likes to remind ambitious employees that success requires careful planning and structuring of your future. You can’t leave much to chance.

The author’s advice may seem obvious in places (take action rather than procrastinate, set positive expectations, draft specific objectives). But she offers some fresh insights about the psychology of getting ahead.

For example, she warns readers not to get carried away and obsess over their desires. Instead, she recommends “detachment” as a healthy way to step back and gain perspective when you’re immersed in goal attainment.

A student of human interaction, Fortgang outlines the three kinds of relationships and how they affect your career:

Energy-draining. This occurs when another person saps your will to succeed and drags you down. As a result, you’re left feeling exhausted and negative, rather than directed and motivated.

Energy-dependent. In this relationship, each party “takes turns being dependent on the other.” It’s not destructive like an energy-draining situation, but it doesn’t necessarily spark either person’s success.

Energy-exchange. In this positive dynamic, each person infuses the other with passion and enthusiasm. Result: Your attitude and performance soar. “The two people are so equal that when they get together, neither is stealing energy from the other, so there is enough energy to create with,” Fortgang writes.

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