Editors Note: This guest post by Una Lawlor – Content Marketing Manager with Advance Systems Inc. Her opinions are her own.
Most people in today’s society spend the majority of their time working, and for those of us in managerial positions or running our own businesses, this can be even more than most. Because of this, our career progression and satisfaction has a massive impact on our lives. People often learn the secrets to happiness and success at work later in life, and wish they had discovered them when they first started on the career ladder. To avoid this, we need to learn from the best. Take the advice of some of the most successful business leaders to achieve success and satisfaction not only in your career, but also in your life.
1. Don’t stick to a rigid career plan
Part of being a leader, in business and in life, is staying open to new possibilities and opportunities, and being flexible in your approach. The goals you had first starting out might not be the most fulfilling for the business person and leader you have become as your career has progressed – allow yourself to continue growing and developing, and never be afraid to try something new.
As Tim Ferriss, angel investor/advisor and author of The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body and The 4-Hour Chef, hailed as one of Fast Company’s ‘Most Innovative Business People’, and one of Forbes Magazine’s ‘Names You Need to Know’, says, ‘it’s not the strongest who survive. It’s the most adaptable.’
2. Say ‘yes’ to things
Executive Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt’s advice is simple: ‘Say yes to things’.
Saying yes will take you out of your comfort zone, allow you to meet new people, and help you to make a difference in your own life and the lives of others. Schmidt notes that when you say yes to an opportunity, to get the most out of it you need to be prepared to do all the work required, but this will not only benefit your company and your clients, it will also help you to learn more and to build connections and relationships of trust with more people, potentially leading to interesting and fruitful future collaborations and projects.
3. Who you know comes first
Gary Corcoran of Advance Systems says: ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ is a cliché for a reason – even for those of us who find it difficult, and would rather stay within our comfortable social circles, networking is key to success. The more people you know, the more potential doors you can open, and the more you can learn from those with different experiences from you. So, perhaps, it would be more accurate to say that who you know comes first, and what you know will expand and develop with the new connections you make.
4. Never stop learning
Be curious, and keep learning from other people and by seeking out new experiences. As Patricia Sellers notes, studies have shown that when people stop learning new information, they stop progressing, or even regress, in their careers. Be curious, and be interested in new information and knowledge, as this will make you a more productive and valuable asset to your business, as well as stimulating your mind, making your work more fulfilling and your ideas more innovative.
5. Don’t be afraid to fail
In the words of J. K. Rowling, ‘It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all. In which case, you fail by default.’
However, while failure is an inevitable part of learning, James Altucher, investor, writer, entrepreneur and author of Choose Yourself, reminds us not to dwell on failure and its supposed benefits. He argues that there are no benefits to be gained from failing ‘so hard you are scared and anxious for life, family, love, career…’ Dealing with failure is a balancing act. You have to take risks in order to learn, and you might fail, but one of the secrets to success is not failure itself, but overcoming it, and not letting it put you off the next new experience you want to pursue.
6. Write down 10 ideas every day
Altucher’s advice for success is this: ‘The key to wealth is to create wealth for others, whether you are an employee, an entrepreneur, or an entre-ployee.’ He suggests writing down 10 ideas every day. For Altucher, when he was starting out as an entrepreneur, these ideas included business ideas, ideas for books he could write, or ways companies could be improved. Then, he sent his ideas out to companies and people he thought would be interested in them, and eventually, he got responses, and got paid for his ideas. He points out that bringing new ideas is key to success, whatever your specialty or industry.
7. Be pitch perfect
This one is particularly important for entrepreneurs – being able to effectively pitch your ideas and your brand is key to the success of your business. But what many people don’t realise is that effective pitching is key no matter what your professional role. In business, you are always selling something, whether it is an idea, a product or a service. Know the worth of what you are selling, and pitch with knowledge and confidence.
8. Think about who you want to be
Tim Ferriss sums up his career (and life) advice in a sentence: ‘You are the average of the five people you associate with most.’
Think about the five people that you spend the most time with. Do those people share or reflect your values and ambitions? Do you admire them, even aspire to be more like them in some way? If so, you are on the right track, but if not, think about people who do share those goals and ideas, and who you admire, and consciously seek them out. Ask them about themselves, on a personal level and in terms of their career progression, and, if at all possible, work with them on a project. This means you can see them in action, which should help to inspire you and develop your ideas and working habits.
The people you choose to surround yourself with have a massive impact on your outlook on life, including your career, and it is important to be conscious of this, and make sure that the friends, colleagues and contacts you associate most with are the ones who will bring out the best in you.
9. Cherish your loved ones
On a related note, remember to cherish your loved ones. Whether this is your biological family or the friends who become family, these are the most important people, and there is nothing worth sacrificing them for. Always make time for them, and let them know how much you care about them.
10. Trust yourself
Finally, CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg’s advice is to trust yourself. ‘When you’re young, you hear that you don’t have experience to do things, that there are people that have more experience than you. But I started Facebook when I was 19.’ Zuckerberg’s success is an important reminder that you are never too young (or too old) to achieve something significant in your life. If you have a clear vision, and you know what it is that you are trying to achieve, listen to your instincts and have faith in yourself.