11 Keys To Success In Your Career
By Pat Carrothers
President & CEO, Havels Inc.
Here’s the deal: the road to career success is not somewhere out ahead of you. It’s where you’re standing right now. The Yellow Brick Road can exist, but you have to make it. You don’t find it. It’s always stretching out behind you, not in front. It’s not the road you follow, it’s the road you build.
Here Are 11 Keys to Success You Can Use Today
1. Be Here Now and Take Out The Garbage
Are you giving 100% to your current job? Or are you holding back? Do you think maybe you’re better than this? Right now, I want you to be honest with me. Are you holding back anything at work? Yes or no? If yes, then you must get deeper into why you’re doing this.
You must give your best all the time right where you are now. There is no work beneath you. I don’t care if you have a degree in whatever, if your boss needs you to take out the garbage, you take out the garbage.
Ever had two job offers at the same time? You sweat bullets to figure out which one is the right one. I’ve come to believe it’s far more important how you approach whichever job you take than it is which job you take. Again, the road to success is right under your feet, not ahead of you. You make that road every day.
2. Understand What Your Boss Needs and Believes
If you feel you’re too good for taking out the garbage, that’s great! But you’re not going to build success by giving your feelings the driver’s seat. If you know your feelings are controlling how much you give at work, then get therapy.
The foundation of your road to success is to know what you boss needs from you now and giving it. You know, and I know, you’re too good for taking out the garbage, but the correct action is to take out the garbage if that’s what your boss wants.
Know your #1 customer’s needs and beliefs, right? You’re #1 customer is your boss. So wow your boss. “But my boss is an ass,” you say. So help relieve some of his stress. Knock her out with your resilience and dependability. You may or may not see a change in your boss’s personality. You can’t control your boss. But keep it up no matter what and you will someday have your boss’s job.
3. Take Command of Your Position and Then Expand It
You meet so many people that think they’re smart by getting away with less than what’s expected of them. Don’t be that person. Understand your official job description and give it with excellence. Every day.
Don’t ever say, “that’s not in my job description.” Your career advancement stops the day you say that to your boss. In fact, don’t ever say no to your boss. Certainly, have moral and legal standards. Beyond that, never say never to your boss.
4. Be Rare, Very Rare
Do just the opposite from most people. Work hard. Work smart. It’s very rare.
How do you work smart? Most definitions are about how to do less with your time. Smartest way I know is to give more by expanding your role. Look for things that aren’t getting done but should be. Do those things.
Become an asset to your boss. Give more than is expected. If you’re thinking this is brown-nosing, be happy with what you’ve got now, because you are not moving up.
If your boss is uncomfortable with you doing things she didn’t ask for, get in the habit of going to her with your ideas and get approval. If your boss continues to be uncomfortable with this, then she doesn’t trust you. That’s a different issue.
That reflects on your performance and weaknesses. That means you’re not able to take command of your position yet and you need to learn more. You need to get better at your job. You need more experience. In this situation, go to your boss for clarification for how to do your job better.
Don’t expect to go too far too fast. You can’t expand your position until you have mastered the original position.
You can become an irresistible force by taking on more responsibility than is expected of you. Make your case. Get approval. Get it done.
5. Understand Your Natural Abilities
Do you know your gifts? You have some, guaranteed. (If you’re reading this you probably think of yourself as God’s gift to commerce. You have the gift of confidence.) When I look around I see so many people working in roles that do not suit them.
Are you an introvert? Don’t go into sales. Are you an extrovert with an introvert pull? You may be great in marketing. Have a great personality for sales but get confused by details and numbers? Do not go into technical sales.
Have a real problem working in teams? What’s the problem? Is it anxiety? Get some help with your anxieties if they’re controlling you and holding you back. Go to your doctor, get some meds and get some therapy.
Many companies give prospective employees a Myers-Briggs test to better understand their dominant personality type. It’s a good idea for you to understand exactly what’s in your profile. Ask your manager or human resources department for a rundown. Take a test yourself if you’ve not had one for work. They’re available online. I’ve had four in my career and each time I had the same profile.
I once did marketing consulting for the local affiliate of The Highlands Program. “Discover Your Natural Abilities” is their current slogan. So I could understand their service, they offered me a free program. I found it revealing and valuable.
It helped me understand why I was so fatigued by consulting. I discovered that I was not a lone wolf type, but a company man. I truly enjoy teamwork and leading teams. I like developing others. The team environment is good for me. The lone wolf approach stressed me. I don’t like being alone. As a consultant you’re never really on the team.
That program convinced me to give up my lone wolf consulting practice and get back into marketing management. I answered a newspaper ad for a marketing manager at a company named Havel‘s. 11 years later I became the CEO. It can happen.
6. Stop Your Bitching Or Get Therapy
Always complaining about something? Do you cut your boss down behind his back. Do you have an inner voice that says, “You dumb shit” after your boss gives you a review? Well, maybe I did say that once or twice too. What I want you to understand is that you must have a positive approach to being bossed around, or you’ll never be a boss yourself.
If you have a problem with authority, you will never have authority. There’s a lot of reasons you may have a negative attitude deep down inside. You may have grown up in a household where bitching and complaining about everything was a daily event.
You may have experienced more than your fair share of child hood traumas. There’s no shortage of that going around. You had a parent who belittled you or one who never praised you.
Perhaps you were never good enough. Perhaps you were emotionally abandoned by alcoholic parents. Maybe you suffered the death of a parent, either actually or emotionally due to mental illness or chemical dependency or sexual abuse. There’s no shortage of real reasons for your trauma. As I’ve said many times, “Monsters do exist, and they are often mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and cousins.”
I was one of these kids. I was into my 40s before I began to realize that I needed help. My problems were not always due to other people. I was messed up inside. I was hurting people. I was hurting myself.
These traumas haunt us all our lives. If this is you, get therapy. You are not going to escape all by yourself. You need to open up, reach out, and discover that you can trust others sometimes. You’re only human. So is everybody else!
Whatever is driving your negativity, you must connect to it so you can move past it. I’m living proof that you can move past it with therapy. Negativity is perhaps the worst cancer there is. It is fatal to career success.
7. Master Something, Jack
Be a jack of all trades by all means, but you must build outstanding competence in one thing. This is where passion comes in. Follow your passion and dive into it with abandon. Don’t care if your friends or coworkers think you’re crazy because you’ve chosen something that might take 10 years to master. Do it.
You will be 10 years older anyways. Why not be 10 years older and wiser, rather than 10 years older but full of regret? It took me 10 years to get a four year undergrad degree. You can do it too.
8. See The Forest In The Family Trees
Are you working for a private company? Rationality is not a strength of family-owned businesses. Figure out which family member has or will have the job you want. Ownership may even be thinking about moving a relative into your current position.
Family members will occupy the majority of executive management positions. If senior management is your goal, get your experience and move on to a more functional environment. At some point you will get an offer you can’t refuse. It’s nothing personal. It’s family, capiche?
9. Power Up Your Mind
Borrow a technique from world-class athletes called visualization. What I want you to do is take five minutes in the morning and five minutes before you go to bed every day for yourself. During this time visualize or imagine some successes that you want.
For example, visualize your boss congratulating you on work well done. Hear her voice saying, “Congratulations Patrick, you’re doing excellent work. I don’t know what we would do without you.”
Sound silly? It’s not; in fact it is extremely powerful. Just do it every day. See yourself being congratulated as if you already have what you want. Close your eyes and see it. See your family congratulating you. Hear your friends congratulating you on your promotion. Feel their handshakes.
Hear yourself telling your friends about your success. Feel what you think you will feel when you achieve your goal. See yourself thanking your boss for his support. Hear yourself thanking your boss. See yourself thanking your employees. Thanking your family. Thanking your friends.
If you’re a spiritual person, thank God for your success. But I want to be very clear that the power of this technique is centered inside you. This particular process is not about blessings coming from above. It’s about programming your subconscious mind to be a positive energy generator.
10. Have Loads of Patience and Keep Faith in Yourself
Great athletes see themselves winning. They see themselves making the difficult shots. They do this over and over in their minds. They don’t just do it before a competition; they do it every day for years. If you don’t feel confident now, do it anyway. Imagine yourself feeling confident. Imagine yourself winning at work.
Set yourself a goal of becoming a Career Olympic Champion. Your goal is to become a positive-thinking, power-packed top performer at whatever it is you do now within the next four years. Visualization, hard work, smart work, and wowing your boss are keys to your success.
What you’re doing is programming your subconscious mind for confidence and success. This is not a quick fix. It takes years.
Maybe you’re reprogramming a very wounded, negative mind. That’s okay. It’s possible as I said above. Just do this twice a day for five minutes at a time. You will begin to feel like a winner sooner or later. You can program your mind.
You will begin to attract happiness and success if that’s what you’re putting out into the world. If you’re transmitting bitterness, anger and envy, unfortunately, that’s what you will tend to attract. So relax and give your best every day.
11. Understand Your Real Goals
What do you really mean by “success?“ I believe you mean autonomy, love and a larger purpose in life. That’s what most of us really want. These are what lead to career happiness and “success.” If you’re dreaming of big houses, big paychecks, a Ferrari and complete freedom from financial pressure, then you’re on the road to Big Ego Success. That’s no recipe for happiness.
Work for the intangibles first, and the Big Tangibles will follow. So how does this sound for a goal set: great freedom at work, great relationships with superiors and employees, and an incredible sense of connection to doing important work that benefits others. You can do it!