What do I have to do to get promoted? My boss has told me I’ve met or exceeded all of his or her expectations, but ‘no promotion this year, maybe not even next year.’ And this isn’t a one-time-only experience for me. What do I have to do? 

Today’s work environment often doesn’t provide much space for growth. It leaves you feeling boxed in with seemingly nothing you can do to break out upwardly. Don’t you dare give in to discouragement for that is when the game is truly over.

If you want a different outcome, here are the first three dance steps you’ll want to become adept at:

  1. Self-Discovery: Authentic influence emerges from honest self-assessment. At the very center of your—and everyone else’s— success is a forthright, realistic evaluation of who you are and what you bring to the table. Too many executives pretend they know themselves, yet their actions demonstrate they don’t. It matters little how demanding your business schedule is. Carving time out to dig deep into you is essential. High-level achievement is always an inside out affair. How else can you own all your skills, abilities, and competencies to enlist others in seeing you accurately?
  2. Breakthrough: Transformation only occurs when you’re uncomfortable. Think about the butterfly struggling to leave behind the rigid, hardened cocoon that has served—but, to fly, no longer does! This analogy is on point for you as well. I can guarantee resistance is going to rear its ugly head. You’ll start believing: I can’t do thatI already know this; I’m too busyTrying is ridiculous, or a myriad of other thoughts that will hold you small. Challenge that naysayer’s voice. Breakthrough takes place when you’re outside your comfort zone.
  3. Reinvention: Lack of action is dangerous. “Aha’s” don’t change careers. It is only by choosing to disrupt your automatic thought processes and behaviors, by putting in a plan of action that inspiration becomes rooted in reality—the new you!

The next two dance steps focus on operating within your company’s infrastructure:

  1. Team Play: It’s great to have a proverbial “fire in the belly” attitude, but only when you aim it in the right direction. If your “fire” is to light-up your progress, your career, achieve what you want, you’re wasting energy. Business success emerges out of team players committed to their boss and the company. Anything less is the death knell to a career. And guess what? Switching your focus identifies you as an MVP employee, and is how you get noticed and promoted.
  2. Culture Leads the Way: Business is so complex and it’s nigh on impossible to navigate. The sad truth is you can be the most effective executive ever employed but never gain an inch. With little appreciation for the company’s work environment, you’ll find all the skills and knowledge aren’t enough to gain long-term corporate victory.

And never forget, even dance marathons have recovery breaks:

  1. Intermission: Industrious, hard work is good, but being a workaholic, not so much. To be fully present and fully engaged, you need to invest in yourself. Your outside of work activities is where you replenish your inner-resources to win the long-game.

It’s time to put your thinking cap on, open your mind, listen attentively, and jump into creating your bright, ever-growing future.