When it comes to “making it” in business, many people feel as if they have more to hide than to display to impress employers, bosses, colleagues, and customers. To compensate for lacking credentials, skills, knowledge, and experiences some insecure businesspeople wish they had, some of them choose to adopt a “know-it-all” attitude.

As anyone who has ever played poker knows, you cannot bluff on virtually every hand and hope to keep winning against the same players. The insecure businessperson who poses as being “perfect” quickly becomes known as a phony, dropping lower in the esteem of others than by being accurately understood for their personal abilities.

From speaking with former “faking-it” businesspeople who no longer do so, I discern valuable lessons for those who are tempted to start making such bluffs:

1. Realize that actions count for much in business. Your sincere efforts to improve carry a lot more weight than any weaknesses you now have.

2. Also, appreciate that nobody likes a “know-it-all,” even if someone knows a great deal. It’s an even less attractive attitude in those who know almost nothing.

3. Most successful businesspeople received a lot of help along the way. Consequently, they often feel inclined to help others who ask for their assistance.

4. Receiving a request for help is flattering to most people. Such an inquiry usually means being held in high esteem by the person who asks.

5. Look for ways you can contribute to others. They’ll feel eager to do the same for you.

Let me expand on this list by adding a few words of wisdom about each item, beginning with seeking to improve. If you have weaknesses, they are usually far more visible to others than they are to you. Learn from what others observe about you by asking for advice about what to improve and how to do so.

Businesspeople often report spending more time than they wish “patting egomaniacs on the back.” If you add to such unwanted tasks by being a “know-it-all,” they will avoid you if they can. They will also cringe when you repeat the story of your “great” success for the umpteenth time. Ask about their successes, and they will be happy to speak with you.

Obviously, you can’t spend all your time asking for help. If you do, people will duck you. Instead, pick your spots. When someone thanks you for a job well done, for instance, that’s a good time to ask for help, noting that you want to be an even greater future contributor.

When you ask for help, explain why you came to someone. You probably have a high regard for the person’s skills and knowledge in terms of what you need to learn and accomplish. Feel free to express that opinion in a genuine way.

While you are still gaining basic skills and experience, you won’t be able to help as much as you will later. Such a condition doesn’t mean that you can’t be of some assistance. Do what you can for others, and your willingness will be noted and appreciated. And don’t limit yourself to assisting those you think can help you. Everyone can help you … even if it’s only with advice about how to approach someone else for assistance!

Don’t feel limited to just my five points. Since he’s well-known as a great mentor for those who seek to improve, I also asked Dean Alan Guinn of Rushmore University to comment. Here is what he said:

“I think that businesspeople who want to improve must recognize where their challenges are, and face those challenges head-on. When we’re honest and straightforward about what we know and need to learn, we have the utmost ability to reduce that need and create new areas of interest and opportunity in our lives and careers.

“Learners must read, read, read. Reading skills help paint the way to success -- and as more and more of us become ever-more deeply involved with technology, our ability to read, absorb, write about, and utilize what we learn through reading and application will become ever more important. If learners haven’t yet developed such skills, they can form them now.

“Realize that the more viewpoints you explore, the better decisions you will make. Diligently search for more information about topics that will help you to resolve conflicts and address personal or professional needs.”

Oh, how I wish someone had shared such advice with me when I needed to learn how to make it!

What are you waiting for? You aren’t getting any younger!

Author's Bio: 

Donald W. Mitchell is a professor at Rushmore University who often teaches people who want to improve their business effectiveness in order to accomplish career breakthroughs through earning advanced degrees. For more information about ways to engage in fruitful lifelong learning at Rushmore University to increase your effectiveness, I invite you to visit