What makes you successful?

January 4, 2021

what makes you successfulAs we step into 2021, I find myself thinking about what I want the New Year to look like. And my natural inclination (and I think this is true for all of us) is to first look back at the last year as guidance for the year ahead.

Although it’s easy to look back at 2020 and grumble at all of the things that went wrong, I think it’s important that we also note that a lot of things went right.

And we can draw on those things that went right as we do our 2021 planning.

Note: Even if you aren’t inclined to identify a New Year’s resolution, setting professional goals is key for starting the new year on track.

So, as I reflect on 2020 as part of my 2021 planning, I thought I’d share my findings with you and also invite you to do the same.

I invite you to answer this question:

Regarding your professional life, what are three things that you accomplished in 2020?

In other words… What went right?

If you spend much of 2020 unemployed, this might be a difficult question. If this is the case… a better question for you might be to reflect on your entire career to date.

In this case, you might want to answer this question instead:

What are three factors that have contributed to your career success?

I actually really like that second question, and so I’ve chosen to think about it for myself. I’ll give you my answers here and I invite you to share yours with me in the comments below.

Note: When you identify your answers, it can be helpful to recall specific examples. They help make the concept concrete, which will help you remember them as you start planning for 2021.

As I look back upon my career, prior to striking out with my own business, I see these three factors as having contributed to my success then and now:

  1. Feedback I have been open to feedback that informed me about what I needed to do better. This has been true when that feedback has come from my manager, a colleague, and even my piano teacher. If my manager did not volunteer constructive feedback, I found myself soliciting it – and that was always helpful! I remember being on a conference call with colleagues and after expressing my opinion, I asked, “Did I come across too strong or was I clear in what I was trying to say?” When I asked for feedback, I was willing to hear what was being said with an open mind and chose to not get defensive. This was especially true if I asked for the feedback.
  2. Initiative I looked for opportunities that challenged me. I remember saying to my boss, “Let me help you by taking this off of your plate.” I joined a team on what I anticipated to be a high visible project and it went well! Fortunately for me, I had many bosses who were willing to delegate to me, which ultimately led to me getting promoted. I did not wait to be asked and that initiative made a big difference.
  3. Relationships This is the area where I excelled in the most. I learned early on that the people you know are our most important asset for both personal and professional success. Building and maintain relationships became the cornerstone of my career. It led me to write a book about it: You, You, Me, You: The art of talking to people, networking, and building relationships.

I have two reasons for sharing these factors in a blog for you.

First – I think you might find it helpful to see how key factors can show up in a career, which might help you identify your own.

Second – I wanted you to see my success factors because they are core to what I teach and guide my clients with. They are essential to a successful career!

I hope you found this helpful! Please let me know in the comments if you did!

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