Rules of the Road for Reaching Success
If you’re used to relying on GPS or a traffic app to get you where you want to go, it’s tempting to wish you could do the same for your career. Wouldn’t it be great if reaching “success” — however you define it — was as simple as taking directions from a disembodied voice or following your own yellow-brick road?
Alas, the path to success is different for everyone. Riddled with choices and unpredictable twists and turns, there really is no clear route or one best way to go in our uncertain world. That being said, some common sense “rules of the road” can assist you on your journey.
Discover your talent
In an Entrepreneur.com article, contributor Adam Toren suggested it’s “helpful to be passionate about your pursuits, but passion without talent is like a car without a full tank of gas — it won't get you as far as you want to go.” Everyone has some gift. Put in the time and effort to figure out what you’re good at and keep working at it and improving.
Define your destination
Describe your personal version of success — exactly what you want and what matters most. Be clear and specific, creating a sharp mental image of what it will look like when you get there. Be sure to clarify your values and purpose and think carefully about what you are willing to sacrifice en route. Then act and react accordingly.
Adapt to detours
The Chaos Theory of Careers (Here’s a great video explanation by Dr. Jim Bright.) suggests that many (most?) people follow nonlinear career paths. Why? There are unpredictable circumstances and chance events along the way (think everything from your personal narrative to economic downturns) that influence outcomes. When detours and forks in the road lead to unexpected places, don’t panic or obsess over making a wrong choice. You can learn new lessons and skills from any situation, if you‘re open-minded.
Don’t travel alone
Even in an uncertain world, there are things you can do, plans you can make, to increase your chances of success. Networking is one of them. Literally putting yourself in physical proximity to other people helps you make progress, determine next steps and even find out where opportunities exist. As Dr. Bright puts it: “Humans are gloriously unpredictable things. The more we hang out with them the more we can increase our chances of hearing about left-field opportunities or getting the inside line on something or getting to understand a situation.” Just make sure these powerful relationships are mutually beneficial and built on trust, integrity and genuine regard.
Success is reachable if you follow the rules of the road. Drive safely!
Written by: Diane Landsman
Diane Landsman is familiar to many in the HR community as a former editorial director at Human Capital Media. Now an independent communications strategist, writer and editor she helps enterprises educate, engage, influence and sometimes even entertain their audiences. Her specialty is crafting original content across media channels, from websites that attract searchers and keep them engaged to email campaigns, articles that put organizations on the map, and executive-level whitepapers, speeches, and op/ed pieces.