Planting the Seeds for Success
I recently had the pleasure of presenting to a group of high school seniors, making their final push at getting into the college of their choice and mapping out plans for their major and eventual career path. Essentially, these “kids” believed that they needed to decide their entire future right then and there at 17/18 years old.
John Lennon, a name many of these kids quite possibly don’t recognize, made famous the phrase, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” And having lived decades longer than these adults-of-the-future, I can—and did—let them know that this is indeed true, to a point.
Budding lawyers, music producers, professional sports team managers, politicians, novelists, inventors who get their first 20 million dollar purchase order right out of the gate, musicians, etc., were among me. Yet when asked if any of them were currently working, only about five in 35 indicated ever having a job, and only one student was volunteering. Having worked and volunteered my time since the age of 14, I was a bit shocked by this, but there we were. It occurred to me that each one of them was “planning” for their big career opportunity to happen “to them,” but not planning a general strategy and plan of execution.
While it is impossible to plan it all out (life happens, as I previously mentioned), you can plant as many seeds for success and growth as possible. In addition, knowingly recognize that each small moment can, unbeknownst to you, lead you to that one single larger achievement, which will undoubtedly be a completely different endeavor than your original plan. Keeping it general seems to be the key, and even well into my career and you, dear reader, well into yours, I feel certain there is merit to the pointers I passed onto them:
1. Get as much customer service experience as possible, and always, always be courteous and polite, even in the most difficult of circumstances.
2. Learn how to speak in public. This will make you an expert and will propel your career efforts and goals.
3. Build a solid and ethical reputation. Reputation matters.
4. Be careful of what you post on social media—it can and will follow you.
5. Volunteer. Some of my best moments have come from simply giving my time to something greater than me and the life lessons I use in business today, priceless.
6. Don’t be afraid to use all of your talents. Because you work in sales doesn’t mean the creativity you express in art, music, etc., has no place in improving your work.
7. Never dismiss or blow off an acquaintance or business associate—one day that person may come back and be a top client, a liaison to new business, or be in a position to hire you for your big opportunity.