There is such a thing as a “star student” or a “star employee.” Becoming a star student, simply stated, means the following: you put in extensive hours toward your studies, participate heavily in all forums and lectures, get high grades, and be ultra-positive toward your professors and teaching assistants. It also means you learn strategies to optimize your studies. Then, with hard work, you can earn a graduate degree.
But once you move on from a university setting, the question becomes, “How do I become a star employee?” In my mind, that question may be harder to unravel.
Here is my attempt at figuring out what actions will help you become a star employee:
Develop your workplace skills. Develop your skills according to your strengths, not your weaknesses. But once you master your powers, then work on your weaknesses. Watch webinars, enroll in classes, attend conferences, seek out mentors—act to improve your work-related skillset. But also take courses on critical thinking, relationship-building, and leadership. The more skills, both hard and soft, you develop, the more likely you’ll evolve into a star employee.
Have the right attitude. That means being highly responsible. Be the person the company can depend on. Be reliable and meet deadlines. But also strive to be exceptionally positive, helping others at any opportunity.
And learn how to take criticism. See criticism as a gift you love receiving but avoid giving. In this light, ask clarifying questions about the criticism to see how you can improve. And then take action to correct the behaviors.
As an example, one time, a professor tried to make a mockery of me by over-editing my script and reading the revisions to the class. At first, I felt ashamed and deflated. But I reverted to a growth mindset and studied the edits. As a result, I rewrote my entire script with a keener eye for what was required. In the end, I benefited greatly.
So, even spiteful criticism directed at you can be a treasure if you earnestly view it as a growth opportunity. With that said, the right attitude will help you flourish as a star employee.
Focus on the process, not the outcome. That means doing the day-by-day grind with great care and effort. But do prioritize the most critical work and become highly efficient at it. Focusing on the process is smarter than focusing on the outcome. That’s because it’s easier to accomplish an overwhelming task when you break it down into small steps.
For instance, your goal could be, “I want to earn six figures.” That’s a worthy goal, but it becomes more actionable when you break it down into tinier steps. The steps could start as “I will figure out which career is most suitable for me yet high paying. I will then pursue the academic path most required for that career. I will then get a master’s degree. I will then apply for a position with an ideal firm.” And so forth. Break down those steps with even more granularity and then chip away to start the process.
By focusing on the process, you won’t feel as deflated or stressed when troubling times hit as they often do. Plus, your head space will be more “in the moment,” more focused, and more neutral. Focusing on the process, not the outcome, is a trait of star employees.
Have a higher purpose. Let your success help others. It doesn’t matter if that person is a loved one at home or a stranger on the other side of the world. If our successes mean we benefit others, we will likely be more motivated and inspired by our work.
Whatever stage you’re at in life, you can go as far as your heart desires. You are meant to be a star in your career. Moreover, I’d guess that with some planning and preparation, you won’t just be a star; you’ll be living the dream.