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Professional Development | The Importance of Being Brave in Your Career

“Nothing is black and white, nothing’s ‘us or them.’ But then there are magical, beautiful things in the world. There’s incredible acts of kindness and bravery, and in the most unlikely places, it gives you hope.” — Dave Matthews

There are twice as many “actively disengaged” workers in the world as there are “engaged” workers, according to a Gallup report. In laymen’s terms, 63% of people are married unhappily ever after to their jobs. The economy is tough and finding a new job is even tougher. Your dream is just that: a dream. Right? Dead wrong.

Here’s my Cinderella professional development story:

Ten years ago, my newspaper was going out of business. In fact, nearly every newspaper was going out of business. With a husband and three kids, I did what we all do: took the first job that paid. I started working as a sales rep in a call center in my hometown of Colorado Springs, and I learned more than I ever imagined about technology, presentations, teamwork and the art of negotiation. Every single person should have a sales job at one point in their career.

I performed surprisingly well, earning a promotion that brought me to Georgia and my own territory. I was in the thick of the technology revolution, negotiating huge contracts and making some dang good money. Then the economic downturn hit. I got laid off. And I got laid off again. Then I got hired by PGi as a sales rep in their new SMB department, again performing pretty well. But I wasn’t really happy. I hadn’t been really happy since I was jockeying for the front page in my old newspaper days. I decided to be brave: I wrote a piece on a cool sales deal, swallowed my fears and called my now-bosses in our Strategic Communications department, Sean O’Brien and Sara Pilling. They believed in me, and I’ve never looked back.

For the past three years, I’ve been incredibly blessed in my career. I’m writing again and riding the wave of modern communication trends with the new content-driven world of PR and social media. This is the most fun I’ve had in my entire life. And I would’ve missed it if I hadn’t swallowed my fears and dared to be brave.

Here’s my advice to you:

Give yourself the power to be brave in your career. And empower yourself to achieve your professional goals.

  1. Find a mentor to coach you on how to achieve your dream career.
  2. Network with people who are doing the job you want to do.
  3. Gain experience by volunteering at local charities that need that expertise.
  4. Talk to your leadership team about opportunities within your current company.
  5. Start a blog, website, Pinterest board, Etsy shop or online community to develop your dream career, all while paying the bills in your current job.
  6. Never, ever stop learning. Go back to school, earn a certificate, attend seminars or Google to your mind’s content.

You can do all this without quitting or endangering your or your family’s financial well-being. Be smart, lay the groundwork, invest in your professional development and seize the opportunity when you’re ready to take the leap.

But most importantly, dare to be brave.

About Blakely Thomas-Aguilar

Blakely is a work-life juggler with three little monsters, Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book-a-holic, Atlanta transplant and PR/social/content strategist (and presentations nerd) for PGi.

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