When I arrive at the office every day, I pull into a large parking lot. The parking lot is shared by employees at my company as well as employees from other large technology companies that lease space in the same office park.
Depending on what time you arrive at the office, your choice of parking spaces may be somewhat limited. There are plenty of spaces for everyone, but if you arrive any time after 8:30 a.m., you better plan for a bit of a walk from your car to the main entrance of the building. The people who arrive early pick the best spaces and therefore get the shortest walk to the office.
Every day when I pull into the parking lot and park my car, I notice the same thing. The same cars are always at the front of the parking lot, closest to the main entrance. The early birds get the best parking spot. That is, of course, until they leave for lunch and someone "steals" their previous parking spot.
So I had a theory. My theory was that there must be some sort of connection between the people who get to work before everyone else and end up with a great parking spot and their overall success and positions within the company they work for.
So I decided to test my theory. I first wanted to make sure that these early risers weren't just getting in early because they worked an early shift. So I made it a point to observe the cars that were there first and whether they were still there at the end of the day when I left.
To my surprise, the handful of cars in the best spots were still there each day when I left the office. I also took note that this wasn't a onetime occurrence. It was a consistent trend.
The next thing I wondered was who these people were, and if they were extremely dedicated, above-average performers or people with high levels of responsibility in their organization. So I decided to ask.
Over the course of the next several weeks, I looked for times when the early-bird parkers were either going to or coming out of their cars. I wasn't able to track down all five, but I did track down three. I approached them and explained my observations and asked them to help either dispel or support my theory.
It turns out my theory was accurate. One of the early arrivers was the VP of engineering, one was the director of support and service and the other was a tenured sales executive who was a self-proclaimed "top performer" at the company.
So, if you are in a leadership position or want to be a top performer within your organization, does it mean you have to be a workaholic and put it more hours than everyone else? Not necessarily.
However, there is a direct correlation between how hard you work and the level of success you achieve. Personally, there are days I'm in the office early, but there are also days I bring my daughter to school and get in around 8:15 a,m. It's all about managing your time effectively and maximizing every minute you have.
While my parking lot theory doesn't tell the entire story about how people succeed and get ahead, it's certainly an example worth considering.
Christopher Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes Closing the Deal weekly for the Sunday News. He is the vice president of sales and services for Leadership Solutions at Skillsoft, a Nashua-based provider of learning solutions.