Success, what does it look like? I get ask this question in many different ways. Many ask what career steps I took to get ready for my current position as VP. Others ask what it takes to become an effective leader. Some have even asked what specific steps did you take to move up in your career.
I recently spoke to several groups at the EHS Seminar for the Texas Chemical Council in Galveston, TX. During a break, I was asked by a young professional what specific steps he could take to help him achieve his goal of VP. I thought about that for a while and realized there were no real organized steps, but rather there were principles I embraced and embodied as a person and professional. Let me share those with you.
- WORK/LIFE BALANCE – I have always put my faith and family above my job. That doesn’t mean I haven’t worked seven days a week and 1 4hr or more days. I have in fact done that and still do at times. However, I’ve found that when I correctly balance my faith, family and work, my overall joy increases with my family and those I encounter. I’m happier at home and at work and I accomplish more and I become more efficient. For many (including myself) work is satisfying and gives us a purpose and since of accomplishment. However, without our faith and family, what good hard work?
- PASSION – I am so tired of hearing professionals tell me how much they hate or despise their jobs or situations. If you hate what you do, THEN LEAVE! Find a job you love, something that you can achieve and accomplish greatness. Something that makes you happy. Passion fuels your will power as a leader. Without it, you’ll lack the vigor to drive change and overcome obstacles. Without passion you quit! By finding and following your passion—you’ll end up becoming a more dedicated, productive person. A person who is happy, satisfied and content.
- EXCEED EXPECTATIONS – Expectations are the core of everything we do and everything that gets done. Meeting expectations is what people do. When you go into an annual review and meet expectations you receive an “average” rating and probably an “average” raise. HOW BORING! Average is boring, everyone is average. If you want to separate yourself from average, then you must “exceed expectations”! Exceeding expectations creates excitement. It increases results in personal and company growth. Exceeding expectations sets you apart from everyone else. It also ensures you value people. When you value people you can accomplish anything.
- CHARACTER – Character is who you are inside portrayed through your actions and behaviors on the outside. Character is who you are and who you are determines if people will follow. If people follow, then you can influence them, if you can influence them, then you can lead them! Your Character determines your reputation. Your reputation is built upon who you are internally, because that is what ultimately comes out and what people see. Abraham Lincoln said, “Character is the Tree, Reputation is the Shadow.”Focus on being better on the inside than the outside, over time you will become better on the outside.
- BE HUMBLE- Leaders are typically those who have ambition, are very talented and confident when making decisions and interacting with people. But most of us don’t think of leaders as humble or describe them with the word “humility”. In fact, I think most leaders shy away from humility because they feel it is a sign of weakness or self-doubt. I totally disagree. I think a humble leader is one who has wisdom and self assuredness, someone who is not afraid to admit a mistake or that they might not have the best solution or answer. Humility is the opposite of Pride. Ezra Taft Benson said, “Pride is concerned with who is right, humility is concerned with what is right.” Humility does not come easy. We all want people to look up to us and think we have the answers and know the way. Benjamin Franklin once said, “there is perhaps not one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive. Even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.” The great college basketball coach John Wooden often told his players, “Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be thankful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.” C.S. Lewis said this, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
Follow these five (5) principles and I suspect you will be a successful leader, thus allowing you to grow professionally. Remember it not always the job, money or position that indicates success.