I generally find that people are way to focused on finding the next job than they are at being awesome in the role they currently have. A lot of times I think that's because there's way more advice out there about how to climb than there is about to succeed--and we confuse the two. We spend our whole careers moving up so fast, that we're unable to hone any specific skills.
Here are a few ways I've found the successful people I need stay focused on the present, and become awesome at what they're currently doing--so much so that it sets them up for whatever they want to do next.
Get a mentor. Having a mentor is like having a board member for the company that is you. They don't tell you what to do, but a good one will help you set goals and stick to them by keeping you accountable, and help you put important decisions in the kind of context you'll have trouble doing because you're so deep into your own life.
Figure out why you succeed and why you fail. Success attribution is one of the hardest things to do, but one of the most important. We need to learn from our mistakes as well as our successes to figure out patterns of results. When am I at my best and where do I consistantly screw up? Identifying those situations are the first step to figuring out what makes those things happen.
Write about it. A lot of people don't want to blog because they're too focused on the audience--they're not sure if they have anything worth saying or they're worried about oversharing. For me, after over seven years of blogging, it's most important function has been keeping me writing regularly about what I do and the ecosystem I live in--and, in particular, thinking about it. Kind of like when we all started carrying around cameras, small ones in our pockets or on our phones, and a part of our brain suddenly turned on that paid attention to things worth taking a picture of, having a platform to publish your writing makes you a trend watcher. Suddenly, you start collecting seemingly otherwise random facts and elements in a way you never did before and piecing them together. When you pattern match, you can think quicker and more strategically versus when you need to process every single new piece of information from scratch, and writing helps build stories and structure into an otherwise chaotic world.
Be a leader among peers, helping others succeed. Great leaders create more leaders. The most you'll ever get done is when you don't have to do everything yourself--and that often times means training others and delegating. That's really hard for people to do, especially when they feel like they could do everything themselves. If you're going to be top of the class, you need to be the kind of person who brings the whole class up--because the best people lead the best teams and you need to do your part to make the team around you great.
Continuous improvement. If you're not hounding yourself everyday trying to figure out how you can be better than you were yesterday, you're not doing your job. Each day, people get new skills, learn something, find better ways to do things, and if you're not evolving, you'll quickly find that you're not able to do your job as well as others. This is where innovation comes from--the quest not to leave unsolved problems unsolved and the insistance that things could be done better. Feeling like there's a way to be better and trying to figure that out should stick like a splinter in the back of your mind all the time.
Find ways to be innovative. I don't care how boring your current job is--there have to be problems that need solving that no one else is willing to take on. Is your current company operating as well as it could be? How can you spend your nights/weekends/downtime trying to diagnose opportunities to do things better--things that no one told you to do but that you took the initiative on. Go around to folks and try and figure out what their biggest problems are--some internal customer development and well thought out process improvements can go a long way.
Recognize greatness and how high you should set the bar. This is a big one for me. I think that, too often, people and companies build reputations for excellence that aren't necessarily well deserved. On the flip side, there are lots of under the radar companies that excel in areas that you'd never hear about. Find out who the really great people and teams are in your field. Who is the best marketing organization in NYC? It's not the company you hear most about--its the company that knows exactly who its target audience is and efficiently and effectively goes after them, converting them profitably. Dig deep enough and you'll find that company and who is responsible for architecting that plan. That's where you should set the bar--to be as good or better than the best people doing your job. Who are they and what do they do to be great? If you're just doing what your boss tells you to do, without looking outside your own company to figure out who is setting the bar high, you're never going to rock it.