I had never thought much about how to achieve career success. When I was 24-years-old after twelve months of working my first sales job I was hand-picked by upper-management to lead a team of experienced sales executives.
I was excited about the promotion, but I was also scared. I had a severe speech impediment. And I knew for a fact that some of the salespeople in the office made fun of me and didn’t take me seriously.
A few days after I got my bearings I mustered up the courage to ask the owner of the company why he had chosen me. I also wanted to learn how to earn respect from the people who had their doubts about me.
“Really, Mike? Earn their trust? If they don’t trust you to work your butt off for them by now they can go f*ck themselves. You stutter and every single day when they make 80 calls you make 120. I want every new person who takes a step inside this office to see that. I want every veteran to see it also so they can stop giving me so many damn excuses.”
Then he wrapped up his pep talk by saying something that shook me to my core:
“There’s nothing more powerful than someone who shouldn’t be good at something but works their ass off to become great at it.”
Luck doesn’t happen to you — it happens because of you
Thanks to that opportunity I was given more responsibilities than most people twice my age. I was also making more money than I ever thought possible. And, I have been able to achieve success in every career I’ve tried.
I used to think this early success in my career was simply luck. Or, that I picked a hot industry at the right time.
But this is nonsense.
I didn’t achieve my career success due to luck or good timing. It was due to sucking up my fears and trying things that scared the shit out of me.
Prior to taking that job for the majority of my life, I hid in the shadows. I was an extremely shy kid who wanted to do things but I was too scared. I allowed my one weakness to paralyze me from taking the steps to uncover my strengths.
Taking that job was the first time I stepped outside my comfort zone by my own free will and the world rewarded me for it.
The more you try the more you learn — it really is that simple
In that job, I didn’t just learn how to create my dream career. I developed skills that helped me lead a more meaningful life.
I learned just how valuable communication skills are in the world today and the importance of taking the steps to improve them.
And, I learned first-hand the power of finding common ground with others and the importance of making connections with people from varying backgrounds.
But most of all I learned the importance of embracing the mindset of being a “Trier.”
You’ll never win if you compete with other people
Everyone today wants to be the best. Everywhere we go it’s competition this and competition that. From my personal experience comparing yourself by how well you think you stack up to other people is a waste of time.
Winning the career you want isn’t about being the smartest person in the room. Nor is it about being the fastest or the strongest.
It’s about being the type of person who has the stones to put themselves out into the world and try the most things.
It’s about being the type of person who brings positive energy to everything they do even if it scares them.
And it’s about being the type of person who bets on themselves and for better or worse says — “This is me.”
This is how you grow. This is how you discover your passion. You plant your flag, smile, and work your ass off no matter the job. Over time the right people will begin to notice. And when this happens and other people start to see your potential the idea that anything is possible — actually becomes possible.
The fastest way to improve is by allowing yourself to be bad
People want to spend time and do business with people they like and with people they trust. Being a person who has the courage to be bad in order to one day get better is hands down the fastest way to accomplish this.
You may not attract everyone — but you’ll attract someone and from my experience, one chance is all you need to turn your dreams into reality.
But this doesn’t come easily and it certainly doesn’t come cheap. You will face difficult decisions.
There will be days when the safe road looks appealing. But the future of not only your career — but also your entire life — depends on how much courage you have to stare down the hard road and think to yourself “Shit this is going to hurt, but I know I’ll be better off for taking it.”
18 years have passed since I made the decision to suck it up and take the job that scared me the most. I’m proud of what I accomplished during that period of my life.
But what has made my career what it is today was that a few years later, despite making a lot of money — I quit it and I tried something else. Then a few years later I quit that job too and again I tried something else.
As I sit here writing this today I’ve worked in seven different sectors across three different continents. Each time I started over, I was scared and I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for. But I had faith the dots I was collecting from trying new things would one day connect.
I’m 41 years old and this just recently happened. I’ve discovered my dream job. Each day when I sit down to work I have a huge smile on my face.
But this is only because I put my left foot after my right one and walked into as many new opportunities as I could.
Not a day goes by where someone doesn’t reach out to me about what they should do with their careers.
They feel lost and they feel confused. My answer is always the same — “You’re 21-years-old and you don’t know what you want to do with your life? Join the party. You’re supposed to be confused.”
This may not be what they want to hear but figuring out what you want to do with your life is a question the world has been trying to answer for centuries.
But you’re never going to figure that answer out if you don’t try something. And when I say “something” I mean literally “anything.”
That job at a bar may give you the people skills to pursue a job in sales.
That job working for free for a start-up may lead to developing valuable skills.
Or that job pushing papers may lead to meeting your future mentor.
Experience compounds. Knowledge compounds. Relationships compound.
This is how you achieve career success.
You have the courage to try new things and you let time take care of the rest.