Career success is a marathon, not a sprint.
Serious performance athletes understand training regimen. Constant focus over time on hydration, diet, sleep, exercise, and mental strength builds capability.
Mental toughness is the most important handling physical setbacks, injury and dissatisfaction with performance along the way. Yet, because these people focus on the long-term goal short-term setbacks are nothing more than bumps along the way.
What if we managed our careers like that?
Too many of us focus on rewards and payback without thinking about what’s required in our own training regimen.
So lace up your Nikes boys and girls. Here’s what you need to do to get your career in shape for the long haul.
Learning – Formal education is a given although outliers may succeed without it. But lifelong learning is the key. Degreed or not the most successful performers are those who continuously learn by taking advantage of opportunities. Seminars, MOOC, informal education, reading, conversation, etc: lifelong learners are constantly curious. Education is transformative: never let it stop
Experience – Experience isn’t a noun, its a verb. Take projects on, join cross functional teams, help out your sports club, your church finance group and so forth. Experiences are there for the taking. Willie Nelson once said songs are all around him in the air: he just reaches out and grabs them. Experience is like that – you have to reach out and grab them: they don’t fall in your lap
Network – Super sales people know how to tend to their network – they have hundreds if not thousands of people in them and interact with them. You should too. Peers for sure, but also bosses, former bosses, neighbors, family, church members and so on. Networks are more than your LI contacts – networks are the people you reach out to – before you need a new job! Cultivate and give back to your network to keep it vibrant always
Risk – Over your career you’ll take lots of risks, but do it with your eyes open. Not sure how to weigh risks and decide? Visit with a mentor, or better yet, a risk manager. They’re not anti-risk, they’re anti dumb risk. Learn how to assess opportunity and threats and prepare. [Smart] risks taken can drive learning and exposure, two things you need to sustain an interesting career, so take informed risks. And leave the dumb ones behind
Effort – You have to put in the work. Just like the athlete who rises at 5 when they’d really rather stay in bed successful people know its lots of little steps that make up a career. Do your job well. The one you’re in. Now. Eschew the easy way out and build a discipline of effort. Effort pulls us through when we’re running low on energy and esteem. Applied effort becomes a habit separating the long-distance career champion from the fading sprinter
Career success is managing even what we can’t forecast: few among us are doing today what we thought we would have ten years ago.
Yet just like athletes who train for any eventuality we can be ready to take advantage of the twists and turns of professional life attaining the satisfaction of a career well-spent and a life well-lived.
Let’s go running.