Over my long career, I have seen so many really talented people fall short of their goal. Engineers who graduated top of their class; MBA’s knowledgeable on more business theory than is needed and business grads who possess a more than good understanding of how organizations function.
The problem with many of these people is that they are too controlled by the left hemisphere of their brain — logic and reasoning dominates their decision making — which generally means they take too much time making a decision and their career languishes.
Sometimes you have to act with your gut quickly and be willing to take a risk; let uncertainty guide you as opposed to relying on the time consuming illusive precision that a traditional planed approach suggests.
These 5 NOW! actions will help you shed the inertia holding you back from glorious success.
Declare an outrageous goal
Declare your goal out loud without knowing how you will achieve it; the more outrageous it is the better. I’m a firm believer that if you know how to achieve something there’s not much room for innovation; creative juices start to flow when you have to struggle and figure it out.
“I intend to be VP of marketing before I am 40 years old.” was the goal I declared at age 25 in a telecommunications monopoly organization dominated by engineers.
I didn’t have a clue how I was going to achieve it but I’m convinced that it guided me over the years in terms of the career decisions I made. At age 39 I was appointed as the youngest VP marketing the company ever had.
Take the job
Take a job rather than evaluate every opportunity in terms of the fit it has with your long term goal.
I have known many people who would not make a decision on a particular position that presented itself because they agonized over whether it was consistent with where they wanted to end up.
They pondered and they analyzed — and did nothing.
Every job has something you can benefit from regardless of your long term goal. Although my targeted destination was a marketing executive role, I took operations jobs to help create an execution context for my marketing ambitions.
After all, marketing exists to create value for the frontline of an organization and having rich experience in the daily operations of a business makes marketing efforts more relevant and effective.
Figure out what makes you special
Work on your personal ONLY statement, defining how you are different from your colleagues and others who may be the competition you will face in your career journey.
People who blend in with the crowd don’t make it because they don’t get noticed; they are part of the lowest common denominator seen to be the same as every other fish in the sea.
A unique personal brand helps cut through the clutter of a noisy and complicated environment. It gets you noticed and it presents YOU with opportunities before others.
You get the first chances and will jettison you ahead of the pack. ”I’m am the ONLY one that…” will clearly distinguish you from the hordes of other people vying for limited opportunities.
Get rid of the copying mentality. Best practises and a boilerplate résumé will only solidify your position in the common herd.
Find your person
Someone you trust, have confidence in and will provide the kind of advice you believe in.
This is more than a traditional mentor who you might find at work in a position related to your audacious goal or someone in the business community who many people covet for advice because of their currency and experience.
You need more than a traditional mentor. You need someone who you have known for some time; someone who really knows you, how you think and knows what motivates you.
And someone who has a history of achieving results in a complicated and uncertain environment. They don’t have to be a superstar in a high position; they just need to have been in the trenches with an up close understanding of how to get things done in the real world.
My person was my Dad who had no formal graduate degree but had years of experience as an engineering supervisor in the mining business. He worked underground with miners in wet dingy environments laying track and drilling ore drifts where the unexpected was business as usual.
He knew how to get things done and provided a perspective to me I couldn’t get elsewhere.
Train to fail
Get your head around failure NOW. At the start of your journey you need to think about the possibility because it will definitely happen along the way. The chances of you succeeding without setbacks is ZERO.
What separates the successful ones from everyone else is the ability to come back from a body blow and make another move.
The corollary to this is that making mistakes FAST is an essential ingredient to the success formula.
At the end of the day, it’s the number of tries you make that determine your ultimate destiny.
”I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.” — Michael Jordan on Success Through Failure
Immediacy is a critical factor for success.
Increasing your odds of success requires that you take action on day one of your journey; waiting is simply not an option.
Serendipity and luck may help you, but don’t count on it.
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