Hello folks, thanks for joining me on the blog again. A few days ago, I was surfing the internet, as is my custom, when I came across this piece titled 12 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Younger, written by Scott Mautz for Thrive Global. The piece was written by a 50 year-old to his imaginary 25 year old self, Since I am more or less in the age group that the of the person that the advice is written for. It seemed like the piece was speaking to me and giving me career and life tips for me to hold on to. Therefore I have decided to share the original piece with a few of my own experiences and opinions mixed in on the blog today. I have also altered the title a little I hope you find it as informative as I did.
1. You own your career.
When I joined a big company shortly after turning 25, I believed that the Great Career Planner in the sky would simply move me from job to job until my career dreams were fully realized.
I was doing too much assuming and not enough asserting.
An older friend of mine who works as a consultant recruiter for companies often takes time to engage with unemployed young people. When he asks some of them what careers they are interested in pursuing, they reply “anything you can offer is fine by me.” While it is true that the current state of Nigeria’s economy does not favour most of the things that Nigerian youths are passionate about, it is still not an excuse for you to hop from career to career without a plan while hoping that somehow the thing you are really passionate about to fall into place.
Don’t fall into this trap. Yes, you may get help along the way, but you’re in the driver’s seat. Be clear on what you want to do in your life and your career and be proactive in making it so.
2. Meaning starts with “me.”
You’re the only one who can ascribe meaning (or not) to what you spend your time on. Pursue the life and career that you want, not that someone else expects of you. The word “meaning” starts with “me” for a reason. This is the key to having a truly meaningful, fulfilling career–and life. Even if the career you finally end up pursuing is not your passion, ensure that you find time to do what you love alongside it. It will spare you a life that feels like you are being enslaved.
Bronnie Ware (a palliative nurse) captured the misgivings of the dying in her book The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying. Number one on the list of regrets? “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
3. Seek authenticity, not approval.
This directly relates to number two. When we seek approval we’re seeking external validation, which is an empty victory at best and elusive and confidence eroding at worst. As a blogger I often find myself looking up other blogs and social media accounts and find that they are getting more engagement than my own content. Sometimes it makes me want to give up my own interests and follow the popular route, even if that popular route doesn’t align with what I really want. It is okay to make people happy by supplying them the kind of content they want, but if approval equals success for you, you. know it’s a never-ending quest. Instead, let a desire to serve your authentic self drive your actions.
4. Know that your definition of success will change.
25 years ago it was all about getting promoted as often and fast as possible. Now, it’s about serving something greater than myself as broadly and deeply as possible. I didn’t see that coming. The truth is this, the definition of success should not be based on one’s career alone. You will find that your life and career goals will change per time. then at that time, you will find that success is not the goals per se but how you are able to achieve those goals one step at a time.
5. Zap, don’t sap.
Success is drawn to those who zap energy into a workplace and into gatherings with their enthusiasm, passion, and optimism and repelled by those who sap energy with their pessimism, gossip, and negative attitude. Even if you are naturally introverted you must train yourself to be less of a dementor, no matter how hard it may be to you. Don’t get sucked into the vortex of energy-sucking vampires.
6. Character reveals itself in times of crisis.
So use such times to show yours.
Success is forged in times of adversity and crisis. It’s easy to be awesome when things are going great. But when the chips are down, how will you show up? And people will remember how you acted in such times, one way or another. One of my greatest career regrets came from an impression I left during a time of crisis where I was lashing out and blaming co-workers. They didn’t forget my reaction, and I never will either.
7. Lift as you climb.
Rising up the chain is nice. Lifting others up as you do so, with the intent to go beyond success to significance (for the impact you have on others), is better. The position you gain should be used not just to further your own, but to help others improve theirs.
And by the way, success comes back to you when you focus on helping others achieve it.
8. The only comparison that matters is to who you were yesterday.
Constant comparison to others is the surest way to undermine your success (and make you miserable). Relatedly, will you go from being to becoming–becoming a better version of yourself–versus just living “as-is” in your life?
To do so, place learning and growth on a pedestal. I think back now to the times in my career when I was least happy and I can tell you with great clarity, it was when I wasn’t learning and growing.
9. The biggest risk you can take is not taking any risk.
The Navy’s first female Rear Admiral, Grace Murray Hopper, once said “Ships in port are safe. But that’s not what ships are made for.” I’ve so often seen that success depends on the willingness to take risks, learn from them, and keep moving forward.
10. Actually, there is a substitute for hard work.
And that substitute is consistent, relentless, hard work (sorry I tricked you there). There’s no other way to success. Period. And when you throw in dashes of patience and resilience and cook it all in the oven of life, you get fresh-baked fortitude.
I’ll place my bet on someone with fortitude over a “quick-path-to-success-plan” every single time.
11. Leave politics for the politicians.
Do your job to the best of your ability and leave the politics for those with less ability. Sometimes, yes, politics will pay off for someone else in their career. But not over the long run–karma is a you-know-what. And do you want to advance in that fashion anyway?
12. Leave a legacy In your life and career.
I’ve been successful in many roles in my career because I started with the mindset of, “How am I going to leave a legacy in my time during this role? What will be my immutable impact?” So before you dive in and start executing in your next role, ask this of yourself first.
My hope is that each of these lessons looking back helps you moving forward.
You can read more about Scott Mautz on his official website.