Ever since we were kids, the majority of us have been taught to “listen and follow directions.”  You were rewarded with gold stars when you did what you were told in grade schools, and you were handed stellar report cards throughout high school and college for following instruction.  But now that you are in the real world, if you want to replace those gold stars and A+’s with raises and promotions, it’s important to learn the value of self-starting, ambition, and thinking beyond your daily duties.  Sure, your employer doesn’t want you to gratuitously break rules or ignore their orders for the sake of “being a go getter,” but drones of employees hanging on their every instruction is not what is going to grow the company; self-starters that keep the momentum of the office going and think of ideas other leaders might not have are what grow companies.  It is important to have employees that follow directions and take care of day-to-day tasks, but it is just as important to have employees that think outside their daily Outlook calendar.

So why is it great to be a self starter?

Your company needs innovation for changing times.
As we stated before, as important as it is to employers to have their employees following their directions, the company simply will not grow if that is all they do is clock out after they have completed their to-do list.  Our society is constantly advancing and evolving, and simply maintaining the path you are on will not cut it for long term advancement.  Thus, it is crucial for a growing organization to have employees whose gears are always turning in their heads, those who are always thinking of ways to advance themselves and the company.

Self-starters make their boss’s jobs easier.
If you are always finding solutions to your own problems, thinking of the next step before it is given to you, and filling vacant time without your boss needing to hound you, you are freeing your boss up to be able to focus on their own job and initiatives.  Allowing them to loosen the reigns and cease micromanagement will help them to focus on broader initiatives while supervising you, rather than managing your every move.  Is a director’s time better spent making sure you submitted your report on time, or working on new and innovative structural plans for the division?

You will keep yourself busy and take ownership of your career.
It is much easier to get excited about work when you feel like you own the work that you are doing.  If you are just following instruction day in and day out, it can be easy to fall into a rut where you are unenthusiastic about your job.  Thinking of new projects and ways you personally can benefit the company will give you a sense of purpose each day. Not sure what to do with those pesky hours that just seem to crawl by at the end of the day on Friday?  Not a problem for self-starters.  They are constantly thinking of ways to utilize their time, which returns the favor by flying by.  If your company is behind on social media initiatives but you love to blog or tweet, offer to lend a hand with your strengths.  Maximizing your potential at work will give you a much greater sense of fulfillment when you go home each day.

It will take you to the top.
Employees who simply follow instruction might have a long life at the company they are at, but any moves they make will tend to be horizontal.  If you want to make vertical moves and advance your career, it is important that you have that self-starting edge.  Directors and leaders are unsatisfied by simply coming to work and doing their duties each day; they are hungry to learn more about their position, company, and industry, and apply that knowledge to advancing their company.  If you embrace a self-starting attitude, your ticket to the C-suite and corner office will be within your reach!