How to Get There From Here: A Map for Success

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Let’s take a look at what it takes to achieve business success in general, and how you can apply these attributes to both your overall career and your current search.

We can start by defining, or clarifying, some character attributes that are often ascribed to senior level executives and successful business professionals, politicians, sports heroes and rock stars:

  • Patience – although it’s generally accepted that one should be patient when pursuing a long-term goal, patience is a passive trait, it involves doing nothing while waiting for the actions of others. I’ve been accused of being patient (occasionally), but I think people are confusing this trait with tolerance, or misinterpreting my clumsy use of wei wu wei In any case, patience gets you nowhere slowly, so if that’s your goal, you’re reading the wrong blog.
  • Diligence – slightly different, although both strong leaders, workaholics and ants share the trait. I do recommend diligence in all exercises (including exercise) that are designed to culminate in a clearly defined result. Executives who equate business goals with sports do real well with those types of tasks, but all things in business and life do not sit comfortably in that bundle, and some really, well, diligent folks sometimes crumble when they can’t clearly define the goal. Ants don’t have this problem, or they don’t know it. I would resist the temptation to suggest these crumbled folks seek out a professional career management team to get them back on the ill-defined track, but it appears to already be too late.
  • Ambitious – considered a rebuke or insult in some cultures, this trait is often reduced in pop mythology to being conniving, ruthless or aggressive, but this is a bum rap, as you can be highly ambitious without being any of the above. Admittedly, to scramble to the top of the heap and reap the rewards, you will need to focus on your climb up the ladder or leap into the unknown (the two most common methods of advancement). But in addition to deciding what you really want (and knowing why you want it) and putting your plan into action, conventional wisdom suggests you will also need one more arrow in your corporate quiver:
  • Luck – I’ve never been able to find a logical, empirical method to arrive at committed superstition, quite possibly because superstition, by definition, denies the logical and empirical. This non-belief system extends to luck as well: I have yet to hear about a senior executive, or rock star for that matter, who’s road to success was paved with luck or serendipity. Sure, there are serendipitous events that occur in all our lives, but the people who recognize unplanned opportunity, plan for the possibility they might occur, then boldly, decisively hop on the bull when they see it from across the room and ride it for all it’s worth are the ones who people see as lucky. The cliché is that they make their own luck, but that’s not really giving them credit for their accomplishment.

In order to make your own happy ending, whether it be in business, art, love or life, you need to actively envision it, passionately embrace the image, then lay out the plan, with all contingencies, by which you’re going to make it a literal dream come true. I’ve seen this happen in my own life, and have carefully studied successful people and their stories for the past fifteen years, and this has been the case every time to date. How about you?

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Remember the Mission

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Professional resume writers will all tell you that perfecting your resume presentation is absolutely crucial to your success. Dedicated interview coaches will make sure that you are aware that every little thing you say can be the one statement that secures or denies your future. Your executive tonsorial consultant will patiently explain that today’s executive is expected to have their hair communicate their management style in no uncertain terms.

Who’s in charge here?

Let’s take a step back and impress a business perspective on your search. You are in a job search, embarking on a career change, or launching your new venture with purpose and vigor, armed with a deliberate and well considered action plan, right?

If not, take a minute, or ten years (whichever comes first) and get there, so you can receive the intended value from today’s blog. If you find you need help getting to Step One, feel free to, of course, contact The Barrett Group (end of shameless plug).

You are on a mission, and it is a business mission, even if the intent isn’t to necessarily earn money (although it is likely that this is a big part of it). Here’s what you need to do to clear your mind, and the air, so as to remove the obstacles that will invariably be placed in your way:

  • Always keep in mind what you are trying to accomplish, both short term and long term. If you are on the path to engender quality job offers, do everything that will result in offers building in a pile on your desk, and do nothing that isn’t related directly to that purpose. Be merciless, be honest and be real. Some people like lists: if making a list with two columns (result in job offers/not related to job offers) is helpful to you, do so and follow it as if your life depended on it. This may sound overly dramatic, but, in a very real sense, your future life as you envision it does rely on your efficiency and effectiveness in this process. A positive byproduct to adopting this attitude is that people will notice, and this will send reinforcing waves of good energy back into the process. Really, I see it all the time.
  • Do not be sidelined, side swiped or side barred (for you attorneys). Only you can prevent yourself from being distracted, dissuaded or distressed. Only you can allow yourself to do the same.
  • Remember why you embarked on this campaign and regularly envision your life after the successful completion of your quest. Don’t daydream, and don’t confuse the two.
  • Take the emotion out of it, for now: running your search like a business necessitates a level of emotional detachment, enabling you to make sober, logical and clear decisions as you move through the process, and erases the doubts, second guessing and fear. If you stay the course, remember the mission and work your plan, you will succeed. Then you can put the emotion back in and celebrate.

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