Gaining success is a focus for most people, especially in this corner of the world called Northwest Arkansas. Everyone has his or her own definition of success. There are many ways to define success; material, emotional, physical accomplishment, and career achievement are a few. Definitions of success differ by person and each individual needs to define what he or she feels makes them happy and fulfilled. Understanding your definition is the beginning point of your journey to success. In this short space I wish to share with you four attributes that helped me be successful over my career. I’m sure there are faster and more direct ways, but I have found my way to be right for me and sustainable for my career, long-term. Whatever your definition, the below attributes will help you succeed.
Having passion for your work is the first attribute. You need to love the work you do! You will have bad days and even bad weeks, but without passion for your work, you will find it hard to be successful. Many people stay in jobs years without really enjoying their work. This leads to complacency and could eventually mean you will be replaced by someone who has less experience or knowhow but does have passion. If you don’t like where you are right now, change it! Start today and work a plan to move to a career that you’ll find rewarding. Thankfully, we live in a part of the country that has many opportunities. There is something out there for you. At one point in my career, I found myself at a low point and frustrated with what was being asked of me. Career-wise, I decided to take a step backwards in position. I moved to a role that took me back 10 years in the type of work I was doing at the time. With the change, I found a new life. I quickly moved forward again with my new organization, and reignited my career. The rewards of this move are still paying off for me and my family.
The second attribute is to become a knowledge expert in your field. Have you ever heard someone refer to the product they sell, buy, or market as a widget? This frustrates me to no end! Behind every product made in the world, there is a story. Someone somewhere pours their life and maybe their heart into that product’s development and production. I remember a time when I was asked last minute to teach a class about a field I had little knowledge or understanding of. There was a guide book; just follow the prompts you’ll be fine. (RIGHT?!) Wrong! It was a disaster, and I lost the respect of the team and the group I was working to teach. Whatever work you choose, make sure you take time not just to learn the dynamics of your role, but also understand the business model. Understand where the real work takes place, and understand the performance of the business inside and out. Be relentless in your preparation! Your team and customers will regard you as an expert with credibility and respect.
The third attribute might not be glamorous. To some, this comes naturally, but to others, not so much. If your version of success is long-term, then it is essential that you’re humble. Even if you have the first two attributes down pat, you won’t always be right! Unless you are humble, you most likely won’t be part of any team for very long. There was a time right after I changed companies where I was being promoted every 6 months. I felt I could do no wrong. This quickly became arrogance, and I started to distance myself from the very team that put me in a position to succeed. It wasn’t until I had a fiery crash with a teammate, I realized I was destroying relationships with the group that had actually made me successful. My dad once told me “never forget where you came from.” Despite that wise advice, I’ve forgotten once or twice. Now mind you, humility is not passive. Passion and humility can crash into each other if you aren’t careful. You’ll have to manage both with intent to know where you can lean in hard with what you know is right. If you pick the right moments wisely, your team will grow to respect and support you.
Fourth and final attribute is being willing and available to help and coach others. It was late in college when I learned that the best way to reinforce what I knew was to help others. By working in groups and sharing with others, I was able to push my total GPA a full point higher. Being naturally introverted made this a difficult task. Today, I still find great joy in helping associates understand our business. I love the “ah-ha moment” when they understand. It takes time. It isn’t easy, especially when you have demanding work of your own. Those demands don’t go away, and you might not get immediate credit for this help. But in today’s fast past world, we have to support each other! It’s the only way to be the best we can be. Companies that support employees coaching each other will get the best productivity and results. It gives me great joy to put others in a position to succeed, and I become better in the process. That’s a win-win!
When I think over what helped me achieve success, these four attributes made the difference. Good luck in finding your success!
*Vice President of Walmart Sales – Bimbo Bakeries USA
*Title and company of the author reflect their position at the time article was written.
The opinions expressed here by guest bloggers are their own, not necessarily those of Stout Executive Search.