“Don’t wait to receive empowerment, like a handout. Instead, reach out and grasp it.”

This is a quote from Hiroshi Mikitani’s recent LinkedIn article, “Empowerment: It’s Not What You Think”. Hiroshi is right! No one should wait for someone to hand them an opportunity. Instead, we should be creating them.

First things first!

You must know where you want to go. To do this, you need to set a goal and create an outline of ideas for how to accomplish it. These ideas should be ones that are easily turned into actionable steps. For example, if you want to get a promotion into a project manager role at your current job, you might set your goal as: I want to be promoted within 2 years to a project manager, overseeing a staff of 5 and successfully overseeing 10 large projects from inception to completion.

Goals are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time bound.

In other words, they are SMART. Once you have a goal, you can then work backwards to create actionable steps you can take today to get there. Using the example above, you would want to include some of the following steps:

  • Share your goal with supervisor (if currently employed)
  • Figure out if your company has a tuition reimbursement program
  • Identify internal free Project Management (PM) courses you can take within your company
  • Identify PM course work at a local or online university that will compliment internal training
  • Find an experienced Project Management mentor
  • Offer to lead a project at work to showcase your skill set

Other ways that you can create opportunities are to:

  • Speak up in meetings. If you don’t put your thoughts out there, they will never take shape into something more.
  • Volunteer in an industry that interests you. This will help you to fully understand if it is something you want to move into and also allow you to develop contacts.
  • Join a Meetup group that is focused on your interest. This will help you to network with others.
  • Do an informational interview

Hiroshi is right! We need to empower ourselves and create opportunities.

Begin moving forward today. Take a chance, get your hands dirty and become empowered!  Please feel free to share any additional tips or stories on how these ideas have worked for you in the comments below.