5 Lessons You Must Know To Take Your Career To The Next Level

These five takeaways are imperative if you want to take your career to the next level.

Have you ever walked into a room full of strangers and just felt immediately at home?

That’s the feeling I had this past weekend when I walked into Summit21, a two-day conference created to help millennial women create the greatest vision for their careers and lives.

More than 1,200 women from across the globe gathered together in the heart of Atlanta to learn everything from leadership to money management to personal and professional development – and all things in between. It was magical and the atmosphere was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

Sarah Jakes Roberts

Marissa Wilson interviewing Sarah Jakes Roberts at Summit21

I left Summit21 with five takeaways you must implement if you desire to take your career to the next level.


1. Remove Your Personal Limits.

To get to the next level in your career, you must evaluate any limiting beliefs about who you are and who you’re meant to be. It doesn’t matter if you desire to take a big leap and change industries or if you simply just want to transition into a more leadership role in your current field: the route is the same.

Founder and Chief Experience Officer of curlBox, Myleik Teele, said in her talk on how to overcome yourself to reach your full potential that, “Limits are self-imposed, they are deceiving, and they are removable.”

She went on to say that in order to remove these limits, you have to be ruthlessly honest with yourself. It requires you to ask yourself: “What type of self-defeating words do I say to my friends or even to myself?”

How often do you find yourself saying things like, “That kind of career just isn’t for me.” Or, “I could never make that type of money.”

Teele shared her own personal journey and how she had to learn to turn fear into celebration. “Instead of complaining about being someone’s assistant at 29 because it’s not sexy, I removed my personal limit,” she explained.

None of what you want to happen will ever happen on its own, Myleik confessed. So, instead of seeing your current circumstances as a challenge see it as an opportunity. Take action with intention and don’t limit your future because your past hasn’t turned out the way you hoped.


2. Self-Care is Entirely Up to You.

It isn’t your manager’s job, your spouse’s job or anyone else’s job to make sure that you are operating at your highest level. It’s your job, and it’s a responsibility that you shouldn’t brush off or take lightly. Self-care isn’t just about having a few moments of peace and quiet at the end of the day. While that’s a practical step to take, self-care is also the art of being patient with yourself.

Sarah Jakes Roberts, a businesswoman, author, media personality, mom and wife who balances her career, ministry and family, stressed the importance of not getting caught up in the desire to be an overnight success. “You may not be an overnight success but your success will last longer because you allowed yourself to go through the process.”

She added, “There’s a balance between patience and pursuit that we don’t always talk about.” And, sometimes, hustling can mean, “doing nothing at all and collecting yourself.”

Self-care can also be asking your boss for more flexibility. Influencer and lifestyle blogger, Mattie James pointed out that if you have a healthy relationship with your manager, don’t be afraid to ask for a flexible schedule, especially if you’re a new mom or have other commitments outside of work. You could ask to start your day earlier so that it could end earlier. You could ask to work later hours in the evening so that your day can start later. You could even ask to work longer Mondays through Wednesdays, so that you can have more flexibility Thursdays and Fridays.

James mentioned that, “A lot of us are walking around upset because we didn’t ask for something that we feel someone should’ve given us. But, if you don’t ask you’ll never know.”

Mattie James

Mattie James during her breakout session at Summit21

If we aspire to get to the next level in our career, we must start taking ownership of our self-care along the way and stop despising the process and feeling entitled to things we never asked to have.

3. Don’t Be Uncomfortable to Make Others Comfortable.

The biggest, most liberating piece of advice from Summit21 is that you don’t have to be uncomfortable to make others comfortable. This mantra seemed to be something every speaker at the conference knew to be true.

Attorney, CNN Political Commentator and NPR Political Analyst, Angela Rye said profoundly during her talk that she was done being uncomfortable to make others comfortable.

Still, I was curious to know how others with more lowly titles can navigate the uncomfortable, yet more frequently discussed topic of politics in the workplace, especially when they hold less popular views than their managers and colleagues. She assured me that it was still possible.

“I wouldn’t voluntarily walk into any political conversation in the workplace and say something crazy,” she said. “But I do think it’s important that we stop contorting ourselves to be uncomfortable for someone else’s comfort. If you see something egregious happening, speak up. But, use your words carefully and pick your battles wisely. Everything can’t be met with the same type of resistance. You shouldn’t approach a level one conflict with a level 10 response.”

She added that you should figure out how to properly respond before you move forward, and get a circle of people you can talk things through with before you do anything.

When it comes to bringing your whole self to work and integrating your spirituality and beliefs into your career, Jakes Roberts sang a similar tune: “When you recognize that your spirituality isn’t made to be validated by those environments then you go into it still serving, still a light, but not needing anything.”

“You have to recognize that just because your faith is important to you, doesn’t mean you have to start preaching during your lunch break, because that can make someone uncomfortable. But, what you can do is be a constant source of peace, a constant source of positivity in the workplace, so much so that it makes someone curious. It’s not about watering down who you are, recognize that the method may change but it doesn’t have to change who you are inside,” she said.

Digital media marketing strategist, Karen Civil emphasized that when you decide that you’re no longer going to sit on the sidelines and diminish yourself for others, you may have less cheerleaders. But she stressed: “It’s okay if your bandwagon is empty, mines started empty. It was easier to push. Be your biggest superhero.”

Sevyn Streeter

Sevyn Streeter and Karen Civil during their fireside chat at Summit21

4. Always Connect Across.

Connecting across simply means connecting with people on the same level playing field as you. How often do we get in the room and immediately try to introduce ourselves to the most important person there?

While Teele mentions that we should never go anywhere without a plan of who we want to meet, she also emphasized that it’s equally important to not ignore the people right next to you who may not seem very important right now. Civil added that connecting with people on the same level you’re on allows you to grow with them.

Getting to the next level in your career requires that you not only focus on the people ahead of you but that you also focus on the people beside you. You never know what you can learn from someone who seems like they have nothing to offer you.


Jacqueline Baker, innovation program manager at AARP, mentioned during her breakout session that she looks at her relationships like bank accounts that require deposits and withdraws. She said, “I try to make as many deposits into accounts as possible so that when I need a withdrawal people are more than willing to say yes because I’ve made many deposits.”

5. Treat Transitions and Risks Like Friends.

Changing careers, leaving companies for better ones, going after a more senior position, all involve transitions and risks. It’s better to embrace them, and treat them like your best friends than to fear them and avoid them.

Baker said during her session, “It’s up to you to take wise risks. That doesn’t mean throwing it all into the black, it means stepping out of your comfort zone. Make small changes day by day in order to build your risk-confidence.”

Singer and songwriter, Sevyn Streeter said that she gets excited when things come to an end. “It doesn’t mean that where you were wasn’t a good place. But there’s something about releasing old things and making room for new ideas. That’s how you get the promotion. That’s the only way you can move forward in life,” she said.

She added that when it’s time to jump ship, don’t be afraid of the water.

These five takeaways are imperative if you want to take your career to the next level and they are lessons that even the most successful continue to implement into their own daily lives. Conferences like Summit21 remind us that the first step to creating a life we love is tackling the habits and mindsets that are currently holding us back.


Originally published at Forbes

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