Break these rules to succeed at work

Slavishly conforming to conventional wisdom about success at work won’t necessarily lead to happiness and a fulfilling career. Think twice before following these common “rules” of work:

• “Just do your job.” Your job description is a bare minimum. Fulfilling it means you’ll probably keep your job, but you won’t stand out when managers are deciding whom to promote. Push the envelope a little so your boss sees that you’re committed to helping the organization, not safeguarding your position.

• “Never say ‘No.’” You can’t do everything, or know everything, or even attempt everything your boss asks you to. Be willing to admit that you don’t have the answer, or that you don’t have time for every assignment. Then work with your boss to solve the problem and accommodate his or her needs.

• “Always go for the promotion.” You don’t have to accept more responsibility than you’re ready for, or a management position that doesn’t match your goals. Pursuing advancement for its own sake may lead you on a career path you don’t really want. Be sure of what you’re going for, and let your manager know what you’re interested in. Then get to work preparing yourself for the position you want.

• “Network constantly.” Aim for quality, not quantity, when you network. A “contacts” list with 700 names of people who barely know you won’t be much help when you need specific assistance; instead, be selective so you can maintain solid connections with people who can really help you with your career.

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