As I look back on my career, I have noticed a pattern to my success — every time I achieved something, three components were in play: Mindset, Action, and Perseverance – more easily remembered as a M.A.P..
In this article, I’m going to explain what each part involves, along with some examples of each. I hope this framework and my stories below can support you in your career success journey.
M – Mindset – In order to succeed at anything, it is critical to have an empowered mindset. What does that mean? Well, it means knowing all of the following:
- Learning is more important than making sure you succeed every time you attempt something. If you only focus on success every time you attempt something, you are missing the bigger picture of career success. As Sheryl Sandberg says in her book, Lean In, the career ladder is a jungle gym. Sometimes you have to go down a level in order to go up. So, empower yourself to take risks and face challenges that you are not sure how to overcome. Focus on learning from every risk you take, regardless of the results. This way you will try new things that you are afraid of, you’ll win by learning, and you’ll feel empowered to keep going.
- You have the power to make changes within yourself and your work environment to make it better. You cannot change or control others, but you have full control over whether you invest time and effort to change yourself or not. Changing yourself and taking action can influence others to respond to you differently.
- Focusing on what to do next is more beneficial to you than on figuring out who to blame for what happened already. Blaming yourself or others may feel natural, but it’s unproductive to your career progression. On top of that, it creates negative thought patterns that keep you from moving forward
- Trying something new or difficult will feel uncomfortable. It’s ok. It will always feel uncomfortable when you do something new. Expect it, get used to it, and enjoy the process. It’s only when you are not sure about what you are doing that you learn and challenge yourself to reach the next level of your career. So, learn to acknowledge yourself for showing up to new challenges, expect discomfort, and keep going anyway.
Every time I write an article, it’s uncomfortable, as I am still learning how to help you and motivate you to action. I have this dialogue in my mind: “What if I am too preachy? What if this is not helpful? What if…” Even though the thoughts are in my head, I just keep writing and try the best I can. I sometimes never get a response for an article, but I don’t focus on that. What I do focus on is feeling accomplished for finishing every article, and being thankful for being able to help you in some way.
A – Action: Taking massive action is critical to your career success. It’s easy to read how-to articles and say to yourself, “that’s a great point.” It’s a whole different ball game to try it out yourself. Without taking new action in your career, nothing new will happen, no matter how much you read. So ask yourself, what are you focused on next for your career, and what actions are you taking to get there? What actions do you know you should take but are afraid to do anything about? We all have certain decisions that we need to make. For example:
- If you are looking for a job, are you reaching out to your whole network to learn more about companies you want to work for or hidden job openings? See my sample networking email article to help you get started.
- If you want to speak up more, are you taking opportunities to try to speak up at the next group meeting? Use this soft skills workout to practice how to speak up in meetings
- If you want to get promoted, have you had a clear conversation with your boss about your target promotion date and what skills you must demonstrate to qualify for promotion? I will have to develop a “workout” for that, so you have some step by step instructions on how to do this. In the meantime, start with this article – “How to Discuss Your Career with Your Boss”.
- If you are not getting recognized for your work, then what self-promotion tactics are you using to subtly promote your value to the influential people in your company?
As for me, I have been meaning to take my career success blog and this newsletter to the next level, but then my fears set in for a little bit. I told myself excuses like “I don’t have tim,.” or “what I am doing is enough.” Well, no more! I decided to take 6 months off from work to dedicate all of my time to launch a new way to help you with your career. I call it the Soft Skills Gym – a members-only, online learning platform and community for soft skills development and career advancement. All the newsletter articles will be available online, categorized by the 28 soft skills, and into “how to guides” and “real stories.” I am also introducing “workouts” – easy activities with step by step instructions to help you practice inside the Soft Skills Gym and at work.
I have my doubts – the most pre-dominant one is “What if no one signs up?” I am taking action anyway, because there is only one way to find out, and that involves me taking the leap and putting it out there. If it doesn’t work, I will try a different way. What’s exciting is once I decide to take action, and start taking action everyday to move forward, the less time I have time to dwell on my doubts. I am too busy learning and growing. Whether it works or not, my long term objective is the same: Help as many people as I can to work smart and achieve more.
At the end of the day, “motion creates emotion.” Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis. Start doing. You may not always get the expected results, but every time you act, you learn and therefore take another step to your overall goals.
P – Perseverance: Long-term success always takes perseverance. The journey to success is paved with failed attempts. Only those of us who keep going despite unexpected obstacles achieve the ultimate result we seek. The most successful people we know also have the most spectacular failures (e.g., Steve Jobs, Donald Trump). Thomas Edison made 10,000 failed light bulbs before he invented the first fully functioning one. While we know we have to persevere, how do we do it? Here are two ideas:
Idea #1: Write yourself a motivating letter – Everyone will have their low moments. Wouldn’t it be great to feel uplifted by your own words when that happens? Here is what I mean: Just like we can have lows, we can also have highs – those moments when we are excited about new adventures, and we are confident to take action. During this high, take the time to write yourself a letter. You can include any or all the following factors in your letter:
- Remind yourself that any feelings of low are temporary. It will pass. You will be fine, no matter what happens.
- Write down all the reasons you wanted to go after this challenge.
- Acknowledge yourself for taking the leap. It takes courage to take a risk.
- Write down the worst thing that could happen if it doesn’t work out, why that’s ok, and what you can do to move forward
- Remind yourself that this is about learning.
You know yourself best and what motivates you when you are down, so write down the things that you know you will need to hear. What will help more is if you send this letter to a supportive friend to see if they can add to it. After this, put it away until you need to read it.
Three months ago, I wrote myself an email to read whenever I start to feel like my doubts are taking over my main focus; I wrote down all the reasons why I want to go after this challenge. I have since sent it to my husband and another friend to read, to see if they have other suggestions. The funny thing is I haven’t had to pull it up to read it yet. I took awhile to write this letter, so most of the content is stuck in my head. So when my doubts creep out, I just think of that letter and get more energized to keep going.
Idea #2: Surround yourself with Doers and Supporters: There are a lot of different people in the world. There are complainers, doers, criticizers, and supporters, to name a few types. It’s important to surround yourself with like-minded individuals, like Doers (those who focus on taking action, rather than complaining about their situation) and Supporters (those who choose to see the positive in anyone or in any situation). This is important, as we are all connected. If we are constantly surrounded by friends and colleagues who complain and criticize, even if it’s not about us, we can start to look at the world through the same unproductive lens. On the other hand, every interaction with Doers or Supporters can energize us. When we hear about a Doer’s own pursuit, we are more motivated to take action ourselves. When we hear from our Supporters of their endeavors, we feel uplifted, regardless of any hiccups along the way. Obstacles just become another challenge that are worth overcoming.
Every journey toward success will be filled with unexpected obstacles, guaranteed! It is how we persevere through the obstacles that separate those who can succeed from those who settle. I hope you can use this M.A.P. (Mindset, Action, Perseverance) to help you toward your career success.
Update: I am proud to update that Soft Skills Gym has launched in early 2014 and has been going strong. Click here to find out more and get the extra edge for your career.
Your comments: Are you taking massive action for your career? Leave a comment and let’s have a discussion.
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