I may sound trite, but I believe that, for the most part, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. Fortunately, most businesses today are meritocracies, so they’re constantly identifying the very best people to lead the organization and deliver results. But you can’t simply “be” good and expect success to just happen.
First, you need to really know your businessbecause if you don’t, there will always be people around who do, and they’ll figure out pretty quickly if you’re not up to speed. Then you need to invest in yourself, taking every opportunity to grow, take on new challenges, and leave your comfort zone.
Focusing on things you’re already good at is tempting, but a mistake. If you’re not certain where you need development, seek out and build mentoring relationships to gain insights, new perspectives, and guidance. Additionally, mentors in leadership positions can be powerful advocates for you.
A quality I always look for in others is the ability to assess trends, to discern, to take prudent risks—to beforward thinking and not just reactive. I get my energy from being around very bright people. They challenge me, keep me on my toes, and make it a joy to go to work. So I think it’s hugely important to seek outand surround yourself with the best people you can to supplement your own areas of expertise.
It’s then critical to check your ego at the door. All team members, including leaders, need to be able to ask questions to gain an understanding of the issues and work together toward an optimal solution. Modeling and encouraging intellectual curiosity aren’t always easy, but will take you and your team much further than appearing to have all the answers.
One danger is to see problems as a burden, rather than as challenges offering a chance to demonstrate what you can do. I think it’s critical that you have fun at whatever you do and feel a passion for it. While some days your enthusiasm for going to the office may be lower than usual, if those days become the rule rather than the exception, it might be time to look for something new. To me, happiness is a component of successso if you’remiserable I don’t think you can call yourself a success regardless of your achievements.
As I look back on my own career, I’m less certain than ever that thereis any magic path to success. No matter how much you plan and strategize, your life and career are very mutable, and the unexpected can—and will—happen. The real key is to be out in front of change, to see it coming, and embrace it. Control your career and use unexpected opportunities for growth. But remember: it’s important to grow not only professionally, but also in how we give back to others and to the community. For me, that’s as important a measure of success as any other.