If you want to be successful, be committed to learning. I’m not just talking about academics but about learning from everyone around you and from your experiences. Push yourself and get out of your comfort zone so that you can acquire new skills and expertise. If someone had told me my first year of college that I would be running the State of Florida for CB Richard Ellis, the largest global real estate services firm in the world, I would never have believed it.
My career aspiration was to be an accomplished oboist. I moved to Philadelphia to pursue a graduate degree in music. Once there, I got a temp job with a real estate company and developer to help pay the bills. But things didn’t turn out the way I thought with a career in music. When I was offered a full time job in the company’s corporate office and asked to manage their buildings, I took it and it opened up a whole new world for me.
I also took with me some important lessons. Being a musician is about performance and discipline – you have to do 600 auditions to be the one selected to play in a performance or snag a coveted chair with an orchestra. My experiences as an oboist also taught me about team work and collaboration. Soloists have their time and place but great music is made when an orchestra plays together to make something greater than any one note or one instrument. A good conductor brings out the very best in his or her musicians, as does a great manager in nurturing and strengthening a team or individuals. Learn how to take advice and guidance so that when you get into management you’ll know how to give it.
The rigor, the attention to detail, the striving for excellence that are all essential to being a great musician carry over into almost any field. Don’t settle for mediocrity. Take the word “can’t” out of your vocabulary. The only people who can’t are the ones who tell themselves they can’t. You can do anything you set your mind to. Lastly, all work and no play make anyone dull. Find things you love – hobbies, sports – and pursue them with the same vigor that you do your work. You’ll be happier and your performance at work will be stronger as well.