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Are You The Best at What You Do?
by Dan DeBruler

I’d be willing to bet when you started your business, chose your career path, or sent out your last resume, you did it because you could do something better than someone else. You’re not likely to hear, "I’m going to open my own garage – I’m almost as good as those guys." No. You set out to win – we all do.

So, what happened along the way? Did the bottom line start becoming your top priority? Or did the profit margin begin to outweigh your passion? Financial success in business is important, but it doesn’t come first – it’s a byproduct of everything else.

Square One – the Second Time
No matter what point you’re at in your professional life – it’s never too late to be who set out to be. Think back to the early days – before you even started on the path you’re on now. What looked like success through those young eyes? Was it money? A big car? A house on the lake? Probably not. Most people just want to be recognized as the best in their field – ahead of the crowd. Become the best, and the rest will follow. With that in mind, here are five steps you can take to get back on track:

Rekindle Your Passion
Explore your industry. If it’s technical – examine the latest trends, if you’re a communicator, take a close look at new technology. Don’t envy the new things thinking you’ve got to have the latest to survive. Instead, let your discoveries spur you on to new heights. Knowing what you’re up against will inspire you to make a few small changes that could put you back on top of your game.

Market Yourself
A key word here is shoestring. When you got started you had all sorts of great ideas that didn’t cost a dime – or at least not many dimes. If they worked then, their offspring will work now. The idea is to get out there. Years ago, I met with a business consultant – a free service of the Business and Industry department of our local Community College. He said to me, "Get 500 business cards, and put every one of them in someone’s hands." I remember thinking how ridiculous that sounded. I was a graphic artist, I designed business cards. In retrospect, it was exactly what I needed to do. He was telling me as a start-up business owner, to get out there and get noticed. That’s a good point to revisit now and then. People move on. What were once key relationships can fail you. Closed doors in the past could be flung wide open tomorrow!

Hone Your Skills
Have you taken any classes or attended any seminars lately? Most of us get those shiny brochures in the mail and think, "I already know that stuff…" or "I can’t believe they charge that much for such simple information." Truth is - it’s probably well worth the money. Brushing up on the basics of your industry doesn’t hurt. And who else will be there? People like you! Business people interested in getting better at what they do. They’ve each got a different set of circumstances and reasons they are attending. Some have questions you didn’t think to ask – and when they get the answers – so do you! Check your local Community College – they probably have business seminars on a regular basis, and a lot of them won’t cost you a cent! Drop your guard and get in there! Ask questions, network with others who are looking to improve themselves, learn from other people’s mistakes. You just might correct some of your own - before they happen!

Learn Something New
Since you’re reading this online, I can safely assume you have access to the Internet. One thing I can assure you about the Internet is this: No matter what you do – there’s a wealth of information about your field available online. In the course of a week, I wear several hats. Not literally – hats bug me. But as a professional, you are probably trying to do and know a lot of things at one time. Why not get some help? For no more cost that your existing Internet connection, you can be in touch with hundreds of experts and others who know about your field. Here’s what you do: Phrase your question like an answer, like – "certifying new mechanics" or "improve hiring procedures". Go to your favorite search engine – google, dogpile, yahoo - whatever. Web search engines are constantly trolling the Internet waters looking at text – hidden and visible – to help you find what you need. Searching for those key phrases will help you quickly arrive a dozens of answers. Try it – you’ll see what I mean.

Take A Break
From experience, I know how it feels to go overboard in my professional life. About the only time I’m not going too far, is when I’m leaning over the edge looking for somewhere to land. I’m a "doer," and I’ll bet you are too. So do this – take a week off. If you can’t afford a week, take a day off. Not a Friday, that’s too close to the weekend and all of its activity. Pick a day right in the middle of the week, when nothing else is going on. Stay home. Go sit on your porch. Read. Think. Let your subconscious thoughts work their way to the top of your mind. Chances are, the answers to many of your questions are right there, inside of you, just waiting for the opportunity to present themselves.

Don’t Wait
When it comes to your future – now is always the perfect time. The perfect to start thinking about it, the perfect time to begin making changes, the perfect time to evaluate your position and strategy. Now. Let all you do drive you toward all you hope to become. It’s that simple. So go ahead – grab hold of that notion that set you on this path in the first place. You know you’re the best, now just be it.

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