How do you create the right recipe for career growth and development? Do you improvise, or follow a step-by-step process?

Creating a delicious concoction is similar to an individual’s evolution along her career trajectory. Understanding key ingredients, without compromising the seemingly small ones, can enhance its flavor in many different ways.

Reflecting on my own career, I have been fortunate to have had a variety of opportunities, experiences, and influential role models to shape the person I am today. I have found that taking risks, flexibility, and optimism are some of the most important ingredients for a successful career.

Seeing and creating possibilities is a big part of taking risk. Have you ever tasted something and asked what was in it? Sometimes you’re surprised at what was included in the recipe to create such a tasty dish. But the cook understood the possibilities and wasn’t afraid to fail.

Similarly, make your career your own. Understand how you fit into your organization today, and how you would like to fit in tomorrow. Learn how to leverage your strengths and realistically identify the areas that need improvement. Recognize opportunities and keep your eyes and ears open for ways to do things better. Ask, why? Ask, why not?

Taking risks can help you grow, professionally and personally. So can flexibility. Have you ever run out of an ingredient, didn’t have time to go to the store, and found an acceptable workaround? We’re all faced with career challenges and struggles, especially today when we’re increasingly asked to do more with less. individuals who exhibit flexible thinking and action help sustain organizations, and are infinitely valuable.

What about the seemingly small ingredients that I mentioned earlier? You can create a decadent dish, but without a pleasant presentation, no one will understand the appeal. Genuinely caring about what you do, how you do it, and how it affects others will gain the respect of your peers. Take an optimistic approach to resolving challenges and issues. Others will be drawn to your positive energy.

Those are my key ingredients for job growth and development. Feel free to fold some of these into your own recipe—it makes a subtle mix.