There was a time, not so long ago, when people were satisfied with obtaining breaking news and information from the daily newspaper, television, and radio. Today, our world has become so fast-paced with the Internet and social media that many in the new generation have become so anxious for instant news, they no longer wait for the delivery of the morning paper. They now look to twitter and facebook for breaking news.
They want it and have to have it now!
We now live in times where the new generation expects microwave or ‘just add water and stir’ results for everything including the achievement of career greatness and success.
When I meet young people just coming out of college or law school, some of them interestingly have a mind set of, “I just graduated today…now give me the keys to my corner office.”
I have to admit that I think I had the same thought when I graduated from college some 17 years ago. But, I have seen, observed and learned that success is not automatic. Success is not an entitlement. Career greatness is something that must be earned through hard work. It is a daily process that evolves over time. To sustain career greatness, it requires endurance, patience, and perseverance and the 5 essential keys:
1. Roll Up Your Sleeves and Do the Work
Michael Jordan is a great athlete and champion of all time. Many people want that status. However, they are not willing to put in the work required to achieve that level of greatness. In other words, they are not willing to get up at 4 a.m. every morning to work out in the gym, then put in hours upon hours of practice on the court and studying the playbook before the next big game. They even want to skip the eighty plus games on the road, playoffs and finals – just to simply fast forward straight to the ring and trophy ceremony and hometown celebration parade. If you want true success, there is only one way to get it: you have to roll up your sleeves and do the work. This will require putting in the time; you may have to work long hours during the week and more long hours on weekends to get the job done. It will require doing your homework (e.g., learn about your company, its products, and clients, as well as its competitors). And when doing the work, remember: Never despise small beginnings. Oftentimes in the early stages of your career you will be required to do some tasks that you may consider grunt work or demeaning. Just do it! In the minutia, you will learn the fundamentals of project managementówhich you can transfer into any arena. You will also learn the importance of details. This understanding is critical to sustained success.
2. Be an Intrapreneur On Your Job
On your first day on the job, you will receive a job description from the Human Resources Department that outlines the tasks you are to perform. Do not box yourself into the four corners of that piece of paper. Be an intrapreneur (defined as: A person who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation). While at your job, continuously strive to add value and constantly assess areas in your company that have a void. You be the one to fill it. Innovate. Take on additional responsibilities and become multi-functional. Spearhead a new project that will enhance your company. Come up with an idea for a new product or new ways to generate revenue or cost savings for the company. Constantly redefine your job, position and role. And, keep adding value.
3. Never Rest on Your Laurels
It is wonderful to have an achievement and to have a milestone. But, never rest in or on yesterday’s, last year’s or last decade’s successes. In the work world, you are only as good as your last success. Your main talking point should not be limited to what you did in 2002. To ensure that you do not become stagnant in past victories, come up with at least one new idea on a quarterly basis and work on developing and executing it on your job. New ideas will keep you fresh, relevant, in a growth mode, and moving forward in the right direction.
4. Ask for Help
Starting out in your career or on a new job, you are not expected to know everything. Ask for help. Start by finding a mentor within your company. Check with human resources to see if they have a formal program. If yes, sign up. If no, ask a senior colleague to serve as your mentor. The benefits of having a mentor are endlessóthe mentor can provide you with an understanding about the company, organization, products and the basic dos and don’ts within your company’s culture. If you cannot find a mentor within your company, seek out one externally. Join professional organizations like NAMIC to find seasoned
professionals who can help you navigate your career.
5. Weather the Storms and Do It with Finesse
During the course of your long career, you will experience highs and lows. Ups and downs. Victories and defeats. Friends and foes. Take it all in stride. The key is to know that this is all a part of the process. No matter what your test, never throw in the towel. Hold your head up, maintain your dignity and keep moving forward.
Achieving career greatness is a marathon, not a sprint.
Therefore, keep pressing toward the goal, which is crossing the finish line.