Adding the ICPM blog to my bucket list, as well as devoting more time toward guiding others to the fountain of professional recognition, hit the priority list for 2016. As such, here are some thoughts. No, scratch that—here’s a single thought: you can achieve professional recognition using simple actions on a daily basis.

While brainstorming the topic of professional recognition, I uncovered a lot of “pros”—proactive, productive, positive, and procedural-based information—and with good reason. Yet, I took a step back. I wasn’t seeking a hearty dose of professional guidance; on the contrary, I sought a competitive advantage for the self that would make a valuable impact on a daily basis.

So I thought some more, lived life, exercised, took the dog for a walk, enjoyed a glass of wine, and eureka! The thought chimed in at just the right moment: can we all lead our way to professional recognition on a daily basis with the simplest decisions, actions, and desires?

In my humble opinion, no one should shake a stick at those bulky lists touting professional recognition at the end of the “road less traveled”. A lot of work, deep thought, and research are often invested into these lists, and that effort should be applauded. The reality, however, is that we do not have time for those lists in our everyday life. We do have time to act as a leader in everything we are already doing and will set out to do. This simple competitive advantage sets you apart from the pack and helps achieve professional recognition.

Perhaps this concept is best delivered with an example. Imagine your manager initiates a monthly achievement competition at work, establishes the ground rules, and sends the information to your team via the tap of a screen. The sidelines and goal post are visible, but how do you enact every play, pass, and run that leads to claiming the trophy? You kick back in your cubicle, car, or collaborative space and start to brainstorm what success looks like for both you and your team.

Your success and ability to obtain professional recognition demands that you cross the finish line in the number one spot; however, you have a desire to make a more significant impact. You have the desire to finish first and help your teammates as well. To do so, you want to create a spreadsheet to help everyone on the team track his or her efforts. The wheels are in motion and you get to work. You work hard toward the new goal you have set and test the spreadsheet.

At the end of the month, you submit your information in the spreadsheet and offer a template for the manager to use. It’s a win-win scenario for everyone involved. You worked hard and delivered first place efforts all while helping others. That selfless act is most meaningful: it is both appreciated and recognized. Taking first place in the competition is simply the icing on the cake.

Don’t stop here, however. Use this example as a quick way to move to the next level by transforming yourself into a leader on all fronts. Offer something useful to the team for that next competition, always be the first to volunteer for the hard task, be willing to sit down and simply listen to your teammate, and be more present in the moment. Lead your way to professional recognition everyday with small, simple, identifiable tasks. Set yourself apart and have fun doing it.

Finally, elevate your efforts by planning, organizing, staffing, leading, and quarterbacking the team you manage toward the goal of professional recognition for all.