Heather Pownall, MBA, the director of business development at the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, works to cultivate an ambitious attitude and the courage to grow.
Embrace “rookie smarts.” I was once the youngest member of the executive team at a growing startup. While I led many of our strategic discussions and meetings, behind the scenes I was second-guessing myself. Then, I had an epiphany: Those with decades more experience don’t have all the right answers. My inexperience was an advantage. I asked questions that challenged the status quo, which helped propel the business forward. No matter what level you hold, embrace a rookie mindset.
Find mentors and be a mentor. Mentors are a vital source of knowledge and inspiration in my life. My mentors have helped me navigate career transitions, shared their expertise and insights, and boosted my confidence at pivotal moments. Having people inside and outside of your organization who care about and celebrate your success is invaluable. Just as important is giving your time and energy to others in the same way.
Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Are you aiming for a position with more responsibility? Setting ambitious stretch goals for your team? Speaking at conferences? Publishing articles? The best opportunities to learn are most likely not within your comfort zone. They’re waiting for you just on the other side of fear. To seize these opportunities, you may have to push through unsettling fears of failing, making the wrong decisions, or being judged. My motto: Even if you’re uncomfortable #doitanyway!