April 2012

I am preparing for a presentation I’ll be giving as part of the IBM Sales Management Support Academy event in May on Creating Your Career Success so I have been giving a lot of thought to what it takes to create a successful career.  I think the great thing about the Top 10 list and quotes below is that they apply equally well to life success.

Try This!

  1. Discover who you are. Make time for reflection and use the power of questions to gain self insight.  A great starter question is “Who am I?”.  A couple of other questions that provide valuable insights are: “What makes me happy?” and “What am I passionate about?”. 
  2. Find out what you want.Knowing what you want is key to getting where you want to go. Explore questions like “What am I looking for?”, “What do I want to be known for?”, and “What am I here to contribute in the world?”. 
  3. Explore your strengths. If someone asked you today what makes you great at what you do, would you be able to tell them?  To get started, consider “What do I do well?”, “Why do I do it well?”, and “How do I know I’m good at it?”. Tom Rath’sStrengthsfinder 2.0is a great tool for discovering your strengths. 
  4. Focus on your personal brand.  Do you know what comes to the top of people’s minds when they think about you? How you show up and what you focus on play a huge role in shaping your ‘brand’.  Consider these questions to tighten your brand:  “What is my work/job vision/mission?”, “Are others aware of my vision and priorities, say, through my actions & what I communicate?”, “Am I spending my time in a way that aligns with my priorities?”, “Do I solicit feedback to make adjustments and continue to improve in the direction of achieving my vision?”, “Am I staying true to myself?”, and “Does my behavior at work fit with my beliefs and personality?”.
  5. Set realistic goals.Focus on things that YOU really want – make your goals relevant.  Allow for evolution and refinement of your goals because life happens and what you want changes over time.  Share your goals with other people who will help you be accountable for achieving your goals.
  6. Create an elevator pitch. We always have an impact. Everything we do speaks to who we are. One of the first opportunities we have to make an impact is when first meet someone. Create an ‘elevator pitch’ that is memorable, sincere, and shows your personality, highlighting what makes you unique and the value you bring.
  7. Create a Board of Directors.Are you sharing the great things you do with other people? Engage with peers and leaders to create a support network for yourself. Identify the team of people that guide you in your development and ask “What do they need to know about me?”, “How can they best support me?”, and “How can I contribute to their goals?”. Don’t be afraid to ask someone for help – by doing so, you give someone else the gift of giving to you.
  8. Build your network. Be curious about everyone you meet. Every day is an opportunity to expand your network. Share your accomplishments with the people you meet. You’ll be amazed at the connections you make. Ask these questions: “What kinds of networking am I engaged in?”, “How much time do I spend nurturing relationships?”, and “What do I give/get from my relationships, either short-term or long-term?”.
  9. Be open to detours.Think of your career like driving a car – look ahead, occasionally glance in the rear view mirror, and use the side mirrors. You’ll move toward your destination with your goals pointing you in the right direction, supported by the wisdom you gain from reflection about your experiences and awareness of the things happening around you. Remember that most people are not going to the same place, and those headed for the same place get there in different ways, mainly because they are all starting from some place different. Be sure to take the detours that invariably show up along the way – they offer a new perspective. 
  10. Do your best where you are.If you find yourself in a role that is not what you had envisioned for yourself, or you are doing something that you are not excited about or do not enjoy, the secret to moving ahead is to engage with it. Give your all wherever you find yourself to be. I find it helpful to trust that I am right where I need to be and the path forward starts in the present moment by being my best right here where I am. 

Quotes to Contemplate

  • If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will do.  ~Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland
  • People cannot find their missions until they really get to know themselves.  ~Kathy Hill, Executive Coach
  • There comes a point in your career when the best way to figure out how you’re doing is to step back and ask yourself a few questions.   ~Robert Kaplan, HBR article “What to ask the person in the mirror”
  • Reflection is one of the most under used yet powerful tools for success.  ~Richard Carlson, a successful American actor of the 1950s
  • Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are the CEOs of our own companies: Me, Inc.  ~Tom Peters, the American business management writer
  • Before everything else, getting ready is the secret of success.  ~Henry Ford, prominent American industrialist and founder of the Ford motor company
  • The best way to predict your future is to create it.  ~Peter Drucker, writer, management consultant, and self-described ‘social ecologist’
  • One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.  ~Henry Miller, American novelist and painter
  • Few people get ahead by staying in their offices and letting their work speak for itself.  ~A Brand Called You article in Diversity Executive magazine
  • If you want to go fast, go alone. But, if you want to go far, go with a team.  ~African proverb
  • There is no single path to success.  There is no right way to create a brand called you.  ~ Tom Peters
  • The future is not some place we are going, but one we are creating.  The paths are not to be found, but made. And the activity of making them changes both the maker and their destination.  ~John Schaar, an Americanscholarandpolitical theorist
  • The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity.  ~Ayn Rand, a Russian-American novelist
  • If you don’t yet know what it is you want to be doing, keep doing what you are doing, but do it better.  ~Mike Dooley, author of Leveraging the Universe: 7 Steps to Engaging Life’s Magic
  • Life is a narrative that you have a hand in writing.  ~Henriette Anne Klauser, an American leading authority on communications and writing productivity
  • Your future depends on many things, but mostly yourself.  ~Frank Tyger, an American Editorial Cartoonist, Columnist and Humorist

© copyright Vicki L. Flaherty, Leading With Intention, 2012


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