Career Woman

The best way to the top is never a straight line

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The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  You have heard this saying at some point in your life, however, it is different when you are in the process of making positive change, integrating growth, or even getting directions on Mapquest.com.   The road to success is not always a straight line.

Depending on who you ask, success means different things.  To me, I would say it means having a career I enjoy that allows me to learn interesting new skills and taking on more responsibility while maintaining balance.  If you asked my son, he would likely say that success is making enough money to enjoy life and work the least number of hours in a day.  The first step in achieving success is deciding what success means to you; there is no wrong answer.

Whatever your version of success, people who want to be successful should mimic the behaviors of the great ones who came before them. These behaviors include:

Follow your talents and be on continuous search for new ones

It’s very helpful to be passionate about your pursuits and it is important to pursue new opportunities to ensure you understand what other things you may be passionate about that you never considered.  People may have more than one passion.  As an example, I was a technology executive; a career that I loved but I decided to pursue interior design and I discovered that my creative side was being challenged in a way I had never known.  I found this new passion by trying new things.  You may also do discovery in one organization versus in many different organizations.  In other words, if you want to be an executive in a corporation you may have to start at the bottom and work your way up and learn all aspects of the business.  Several Canadian banking CEO’s started their careers as tellers and went from there.  What better person to be head of an organization as someone who understands all aspects of it?

Focus your quest

If your goal is to be head of an organization then focus on that daily and understand what your next meaningful steps needs to be to ensure you meet your goals.  Be very deliberate in taking the steps to ensure you are not just going through the motions.  Learn along the way and be sure to absorb as much as you can about the tasks you are performing.  Also, be sure to do the best job you can do every day regardless of what that job is to ensure you are considered for the next step.  Be someone who stands out.  Be the best you can be at everything you do and success will come.  Inevitably you will be better at some things versus others but put your best foot forward each and every day and never give up on your goals.

Work toward meaningful goals

In Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey researched the difference between the average person and the extraordinary person.  He found that those who were able to achieve greatly understood the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.

Many people are obsessed with efficiency, which leads them to work towards goals that are meaningless and not important.  Effectiveness on the other hand, is not about getting as much done as possible in a limited amount of time; rather, it’s about getting things accomplished that are relevant and important.  Getting out 100 emails in an hour may be efficient but it’s only effective if those emails provide the results you were looking for.  If they don’t provide the result then skip it.  Make every minute count and make sure the tasks you are performing are effective and get you the results you desire.

Never, Never, Never give up.

If you are 5 ft 3 in, slow and have a vertical leap that involves negative numbers, giving up on your goal to make the NBA is probably a smart move.  But if you have a goal that is achievable through actual talent and hard work don’t give up ever.  You will make mistakes and you will fail sometimes.  Keep practicing, learning, accepting rejection and keep trying again.

The majority of successful people were also huge failures at one point in their lives; Oprah Winfrey had a very rocky start in life, J.K. Rowling was on welfare and is now one of the richest women in the world as a result of her Harry Potter series, Bill Gates suffered failure in business and is now one of the richest men in the world.  Success comes from hard work, vision, focus and determination.  No one gets it for free.

Be fearless and do what others are not prepared to do

Show your employer that you are willing to go above and beyond.  Offer to speak at the next departmental meeting or company function when there is an opportunity Network to meet the executives when you have the opportunity to ensure you are getting well known by the right people.  Find a mentor who can help you build and execute your plan.  Make sure the mentor is someone you want to emulate and not someone who is a peer.

Educate yourself

It is important that you know the fundamentals of your industry, though that doesn’t always necessitate an MBA.  Be prepared to continuously educate yourself enrolling in business classes offered by your employer or post-secondary institutions local to you.  This shows determination to learn that will definitely appeal and should be highlighted on your resume.   Most employers will even pay for your continued education.

Be the best you can be every single day and be prepare to zig when you may want to zag; you may just find the journey much more interesting.

About Anne Marie Cummins

annemariec@thebusinesswomanmedia.com'

Anne Marie Cummins is the author of the Amazon Best Selling book Baby Boomer Bonding and conducts workshops and retreats to help women reinvent themselves after retirement to remain relevant and mainstream.

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