I had a conversation with a guy the other day who is working through some career choices, trying make it to the top of his profession as quickly as possible. He's at a fun place in life, with a lot of talent and a lot of potential, just waiting for the right time to make his move.

During our conversation I remembered a quote I read several years ago by Jack Welch that really stuck with me. Welch was the long-time CEO of GE whose name is synonymous with the words "leadership" and "management" in some circles. He gave this advice to young leaders:

"If you treat the job you're on today like it's the last job you're ever going to be on, and you do it better than anyobody's ever done it before, I guarantee you won't stay on that job."

It's easy to get focused on the ladder rather than the job. The irony is, the best people to move up are the people who aren't focused on the ladder at all.

You want a promotion? Pretend like you'll never have another promotion and do your job like you're going to do it for the rest of your life. Spend all your time focused on a future job rather than your current job and you're likely to end up with neither.