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  • Red Light Moments

    I do an extensive amount of writing on what separates “rock stars” from everyone else at work. And while I’m a huge believer in the incremental edge, I also know there are times when you need to prove yourself in big ways.

    Shining in the limelight

    These are what I call “red light moments” and if you’ve ever had a video camera pointed in your face, you know what I mean. When the red light comes on, the camera is recording… and you’d better be ready to nail it.

    While the phrase is figurative, I gave my MBA students the opportunity to have a very literal red light moment recently when I asked them to create a script for a video resume and come to class prepared to film.

    Out of 23 students, only three were ready.

    The others had various excuses, e.g. the script wasn’t finished, they needed more time to practice, they didn’t want to go first… you name it. Normally, my students are better than this; however, only 1% of the class passed their red light moment.

    This reminded me of a statistic from the Social Security Administration (SSA) that I used to recite all the time in my presentations. According to the SSA, if you take 100 men and women at the start of their working careers and follow them for 40 years to retirement age, here’s what you’ll find:

    54 will be broke
    36 will be dead
    5 will continue to work because they can’t afford to retire
    4 will be financially independent
    1 will be wealthy

    So a quick review of the numbers will tell you that only 5% of the population becomes economically successful – and a mere 1% become rock stars.

    My guess is that “rock stars” (i.e. the best of the best) are those who don’t shy away from their red light moments. On the contrary, they embrace them. They do the hard work on the back end that makes everything we see on the front end look easy.

    Step up

    If being in the top 1% is your goal – step up now for your own red light moments. When given a tough assignment, don’t sit back and whine about how hard it is – roll up your sleeves and jump in. Remember: If you’re always safely inside your comfort zone, you’ll never develop and improve your skills. So the next time you have an opportunity “step up to the plate” like the one I gave my students above, rise to the occasion and hit it out of the park.

    You’ll score a home run while the other 99% will be making excuses in the dugout.


    Emily Bennington is the author of Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job. She hosts a popular blog for career newbies at www.professionalstudio365.com and can be found on Twitter @EmilyBennington or via email at ebennington[at]msn[dot]com.

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