Taking control of your career is not easy. Whether it's switching careers, going back to school, or walking away from a 9-5 to start your own business, it takes courage.
However, courage will only get you so far. You also need guidance. Without it, you will learn some difficult lessons, the hard way. While many successful entrepreneurs and business people will say failing often and failing fast, is important to growth. I'm here to tell you why fail often if you have resources to eliminate more mistakes?
I’m going to assume you’re like me and don’t have rich parents that paved the way for you, a millionaire mentor or some other person who is going to show you the ropes and explain each step you need to take to take charge of your career.
When I set out on my own, to New York City at 23, all I had was my appetite to succeed, my youthful ignorance and unawareness of what "cost of living" truly meant. Those three things allowed me to take the risk and move here on my own to take charge of my career. At the time I thought that was all I needed to succeed.
It helped for sure, but there's more one needs to succeed in their career. Along the way, I've picked up mentors, friends, a network, and key learnings to help me but for the most part, I learned a lot by trial and error.
I want to share with you some of my biggest lessons learned with so that you can take charge of your career today (without as many mistakes). As I look back on these lessons, I realize that they’re really great reminders for us all no matter what stage you are in your career.
1. Confidence is Mandatory
Confidence is a crucial quality to possess in a successful career, and embracing it fully will take you places you never imagined. No one is stopping you from accomplishing your goals but yourself. Think about it...all you need is the confidence to know that you can do whatever you have set out to do, and have the confidence to convince others the same. Why should anyone believe in you, your ideas, or your abilities if you didn’t believe in them yourself? It takes confidence to reach new heights and approach new challenges.
One thing every successful person has in common, is that they exude confidence. It's not the success that made them confident, it's their own belief in themselves to achieve the very thing they are doing. People who are not confident tend to stay in their comfort zones. Which is why people who lack confidence get stuck in dead-end jobs or don't pursue business ideas or ventures they have. They are content with letting opportunities pass them by.
2. You are the "Average" of the company you keep
Renowned businessman Jim Rohn once said, “You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.” But it’s common for women to underestimate the importance of the company they keep. Bottom line: The people around you matter.
You need people who will challenge you and make you better, thereby raising your average or helping you maintain a high one. Many women strive to be the best or the smartest in the room. But if you're always the smartest person, you're hurting yourself. You want to surround yourself with people who are exponentially better in a variety of ways, so that you are constantly improving.
Here’s the really hard part: Giving a silent assessment of the people you keep around you may sound judgmental, but understanding their influence on your performance is critical to your success. If someone is bringing down your average, you have to reduce his or her involvement in your life. Not doing so may hinder your energy, vision and ultimate success.
3. The Slight Edge will either propel you towards success or failure
Why is it that some people make dream after dream come true, while others just continue dreaming and spend their lives building dreams for someone else?
One simple reason: those that are "successful" have found their SLIGHT EDGE!
The Slight Edge by Greg Olson, is easily one of my favorite books. In his book, he talks about a way of thinking, a way of processing information that enables you to make the daily choices that will lead you to the success you desire. It is a philosophy that is powerful in its simplicity.
I highly recommend this book. In short, the slight edge is realizing that "simple daily disciplines - little productive actions, repeated consistently over time - add up to the difference between failure and success." So, essentially every decision you make, no matter how small is a steps towards success or a step towards failure. So if you want to lose 10 lbs, every work out gets you closer to your goal weight. While every burger will get you further away. Will you lose 10 pounds in one workout or ruin it by eating one burger? No, but those small actions added up over time will determine how successful (or unsuccessful) you are in your weight loss goals. The same goes for your career and business.
4. Everything you do NOW is for your FUTURE
Do you ever look back and think man, who knew that doing X would lead to Y? It could be the college you chose to go to in high school, the guy you dumped, or the friend you never reconciled with. Every decision you make, every action you take is impacting your future in some shape or form. Similar to the slight edge, recognizing that every career and/or business decision you make TODAY is paving your future should help you be more aware of the decisions you are making now. I say this all the time to people who complain about the work they are doing. You can't be a BOSS without being a worker. So when you are grinding, doing busy work for your boss, remember that at one point they had to do it too. In order for you to LEAD, you have to first be LED. If you want a million followers and a growing business, you have to first make the network and build influence. Your future self will thank you for the things you are doing now.
Also, for those of you who think "I'm still young"... and are blowing off your twenties. I have news for you... you don't wake up in your thirties with life all figured out. So I suggest if you aren't in a career you love, or aren't in the field you want to work in... start taking steps TODAY to get you where you want to be in five years.
5. You are living the life you designed
Successful people aren’t deterred by obstacles, which is how they rise up in the first place. However, unsuccessful people often feel at the mercy of external circumstances.
NEWS FLASH! You are not a victim of circumstance. No one can force you to make decisions and take actions that are contrary to your aspirations. The circumstances you’re living in today are your own — you created them.
Likewise, your future is entirely up to you. If you’re feeling stuck, it’s probably because you’re afraid to take the risks necessary to achieve your goals and live your dreams.
When it’s time to take action, remember that even Drake started from the bottom.
6. Discipline is doing what needs to be done, even when you don't want to.
Discipline is a concept everyone is aware of, but few truly understand or execute. The most successful people in life exert discipline on a daily basis. Too many people are susceptible to instant gratification. Lacking discipline will have long-term effects on your career and business. Discipline is turning down drinks with your friends when you need to spend the time working on your business venture. Discipline is squeezing in a workout after working a ten hour day. Discipline is making promises to yourself and making sure you deliver. If you can make the genuine effort to align your actions and behaviors with your thoughts you can garner the success you seek. It additionally gives you the authority to overcome any obstacles that come your way.
7. Invest in yourself
Investing in yourself is the one of the best investments you can make. Whether it’s investing in learning a new skill, developing yourself personally or professionally, reading a book, tapping into your creativity or hiring a coach, you need to give to yourself first before you can give to others. It is your responsibility to take the time to develop your gifts and talents, so you can be better at your job -- whether you are an entrepreneur or work in Corporate America.
When you invest in yourself, a world of opportunities will open up for you. And honestly, if you want to invest in something with a small risk and big return, investing in yourself is the smartest thing to do.
8. You don't get promotions/raises for doing your job
This was a lesson was a tough pill for me to swallow, but I'm glad I learned it early on. In m y first job out of college, I worked really hard, but I did not work smart. I was good at my job, but I was not great at it. I grew up with the being taught that if you work hard, you would get rewarded for it. But in Corporate America that simply is not true. And in entrepreneurship, it definitely does not apply. Because you can work hard and still not get any clients. In both your career and business, just doing your job is not enough. You have to go above and beyond.
At all of my corporate jobs, every raise or promotion I have ever received was due to me managing up and carrying out roles and responsibilities for the next position, while also doing my current job seamlessly. Is it fair to do work for a job you are not being paid for? Not necessarily. Is that how you get raises and promotions? In short -- YES!
Think of it like this, when you are looking for a new hairstylist, or a new restaurant to check out. Are you going to let someone touch your hair when they have only a satisfactory rating? Or let's think about it in school terms, do you want a dentist who made all C's through college, performing your oral surgery? While C's get degrees, you likely want the dentist that was an A or at least B+ student.
The same goes for work and owning a business! Your employer doesn't want to reward you for being average and your potential client doesn't want to spend their hard earned money on an average product or service. You need to be willing to go above and beyond to prove you are ready for that next step (or that future client's business).
9. Focus on solutions, NOT PROBLEMS
All too often, the first thing people do when adversity strikes is focus on the problem. While it is easy is to focus on the negative when tough times arise, you really should be directing every bit of your energy towards the solution.
This applies to basically everything that we do. Work, personal, and everything in between, you have to remember that what you focus on expands. So if you focus on a problem, you will be met with more problems. If you focus on a solution, you will get more solutions.
The individuals and companies that are able to get through tremendous setbacks and actually grow because of them are the ones who focus on solutions, not more problems.
Failure is never a final end result unless you allow it to be. Women that use every experience to get one step closer to where they want to be are able to navigate through tremendous setbacks and actually grow from them because they are the ones who focus on solutions, not more problems.
Taking the time to fully analyze your situation in solitude, while focusing on solutions instead of problems, can revitalize your mind and help you focus on where you are headed, how you feel, and more important, how you view failure from that moment on.
10. Be intentional, not busy
When I first heard the phrase, “‘Busy’ has become the new ‘Fine’" I knew I was apart of this growing epidemic. In fact, I still struggle with this. Before when you asked somebody how they were doing, they used to answer, “Fine.” But nowadays, everybody answers, “Busy.”
In this day in age, Busy is “cool”, and has become the default state for too many of our lives. Even worse, individuals and companies often wear busyness as a badge of honor. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Busy is not inevitable.
So many women are half-living each day as a reaction to the constant barrage of never-ending to-do lists, social obligations, work functions, status updates, and more. This reactive, autopilot busyness, is not our purpose on this Earth.
My definition of Purpose is being intentional about what you do daily.
When you give up control in micro doses, one teeny, seemingly harmless morsel at a time, you end up in a steady pace without purpose until you wake up years later—if you wake up—only to discover you are no where close to where you thought you would be.
Each of us can take intentional steps to unbusy our lives.
Intentions aren't to be confused with goals: Intentions are about who you want to be, what you wish to contribute to the world, and how you choose to touch the lives of others.
Without awareness of this, there can be no intention. Without intention, you lose the ability to choose what matters. Everyday, set intentions.
#BossTribe, what other lessons have you learned in your career and businesses along the way? Drop them in the comments below.