If the tasks on your “To-Do” list are familiar, comfortable, and almost always play to your strengths, then you may need to stretch much further in order to advance your career, or to improve the chances of keeping your job during periods of layoffs.

Though you have your own job, your own tasks to accomplish, you may have to find ways to take on more, to stretch. If you always do the same-old, same-old, then you are not making yourself a more valuable knowledge worker. To prevent yourself from stagnating, you may want to consider seeking ways, while on the job, to expand your own potential by leaning on the company to help expand your capabilities:

  • Take on more, tougher. You may want to volunteer to take on a tougher assignment, in addition to your own commitments.
  • Broaden your skills. After a few years on the job, if no promotion is coming your way, ask NICELY to be assigned to another group where you can learn new skills and learn more about another function within your own company.
  • Educate yourself. If your company has an educational benefit program that sponsors some or all of the costs of post-secondary courses, you may want to take courses that will make you a more qualified and more desirable employee at both your own company and, especially, at other companies in the event you are kicked to the proverbial curb, meaning, laid off. Even if your company won’t pay for your educational courses, it may be a good investment to cover out of your own pocket.
  • Be more helpful. After accomplishing your own work, then help another colleague. Participate in company social groups or activities, and on leadership teams that benefit the larger employee body.
  • Find problems. Every company has more problems than they can respond to. Find a problem that may be within your area of expertise, or a wee bit of a stretch, and then seek permission to become involved in helping to address that problem. System bottlenecks are typically rich sources of problems and potential solutions.

Stretch to grow; grow, to get promoted.