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Employees want to know how to advance in their career! The obvious answer may be, “Just do your job!”” But, that is not enough to satisfy an employee’s desire to manage their career and impact their life.

In the ever-evolving world of business, inspiration can be found in unexpected places. One source of wisdom is in nature, consider the timeless saying, “Water seeks its own level.” This simple yet profound metaphor provides clues to understand human performance in business. Let’s get into the current and do a deep dive into this phrase.

Start at the Source:
Just like a stream begins as a trickle from a small source, employees start in one position with the desire to flow to the next. This occurs by paying attention to each task to understand and learn about the job and the company. Each drop may provide insight and continuous learning to help you maneuver to a much bigger pond.

If you enter a new role or company and immediately try to make a change or have an impact, your behavior may be compared to a tumultuous waterfall. Ideas and change fall forcefully and can cause others to capsize or drown. Once this occurs it may be difficult for you to recover. How can the company help you avoid a potential waterfall? Set realistic expectations for performance and results and communicate how to achieve them through company values and action.

The Ripple Effect:
Every action of water creates ripples that affect everything around it. When a stone skims across water, the ripples are far reaching. Employees actions are similar. If you exhibit “negative behavior” it quickly ripples through the organization. When you exhibit “positive behavior” it ripples more slowly. Why? Results, performance, and good behavior are an expectation, this is why you were hired! Be aware of your “ripple effect.” Assess each situation and think before you act! Your behavior impacts others and ripples through the organization.

Consistency and Flow:
Water’s consistent flow symbolizes the importance of sustained effort and focus. Consistency and a steady flow of productivity are essential elements for success that impact performance in your current and future roles. These behaviors create a positive ripple and flow through the organization enhancing your reputation.

Adapt to the Terrain:
Water gracefully adapts to the terrain it encounters, flowing around obstacles and molding itself to its surroundings. In business, adaptability is a prized skill. To navigate the day-to-day twists and turns, you must be proactive. Consider the rocks that may lie in your path and learn new skills to help you anticipate and adapt when changes occur.

Nurture the Ecosystem:
Water sustains life within its ecosystem. Likewise, employees who focus on teamwork and contribute to the growth and success of others have a profound impact on the ecosystem of their department and company.

Embrace Challenges:
Water doesn’t shy away from challenges; it overcomes them. Whether it’s navigating through a dam or surging past boulders, water demonstrates resilience and adaptability. Similarly, individuals in business must see challenges as opportunities for growth and innovation.

Stop Pollution:
Water that is stagnant and filled with garbage may eventually die. Consider Lake Erie. By the 1960’s Lake Erie had become extremely polluted, Factories dumped pollutants into the lake and the waterways that flowed into it. By the 1960’s, the phrase “Lake Erie is Dead” started to appear in publication. In 1969 the Cuyahoga River that fed into the lake caught fire. This was a major impetus for the Federal government to step in. Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972, a measure that tightened regulations on industrial dumping.

When employees are given little information, attention, or coaching from their manager or leader they become stagnant and polluted. The employee may make up their own story and believe the lack of support is an indicator of a career that is dead…like Lake Erie. Instead, ask questions, gather feedback, and seek to understand the truth.”

Go Deep:
Dive deep into your passion, like water seeking its path, and let continuous learning flow to reach your full potential. By applying these principles, you can rise to your level in business and create waves of success.

“In time and with water everything changes.” Leonardo Da Vinci