Are you clear about your business brand and career focus? Do these words ignite your passion?
I just returned from my second trip to China. This time, I taught business owners the art of emotional engagement when speaking. The biggest problem I had was getting the owners to focus on one theme for their speeches.
China is going through a business boom. This makes people act like kids in a candy store when it comes to determining the focus of their business and career. They want to do anything that looks like it will bring them success. They bounce around, following the trend of the year or even the month.
It is profound right now in China. Yet I know the urge to follow the shining stars also exists in the United States and Europe. This restlessness is only stifled by the economy that frightens people into more rigid behavior. People are staying in careers and jobs out of fear, not desire. This doesn’t ease their discontentment.
Whether you bounce around with your career and business brand or you stay in one place out of fear, you are not mining the riches found in persistence.
Looking back on my own career, I also bounced around in search of new challenges every few years. I now wonder what I could have accomplished had I stayed longer in one place.
There are two problems with this inability to delay gratification in what you choose to do with your career or the focus of your business:
- You do not stay long enough to make the impact that is truly possible with a committed, long-term focus.
- You choose your life’s work based on external rewards, which you are always chasing, instead of internal inspiration, which provides more lasting satisfaction.
You might fall victim to one or both detractors.
In Steve Jobs’ famous speech to the 2006 Stanford graduating class, he quoted the words, “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” Although people tend to respond to the words hungry and foolish as the drivers of his success, the truth is Jobs succeeded through his dogged determination to stay the course. He believed in the value of his work and the possibility of the difference he would make in the world no matter what difficulties he faced. The key word in the quote is, “Stay.”
No person has accomplished great things without a passion for their work and a strong belief that what they are doing is a good thing for many people. They chose work based on internal inspiration. They had no problem defining what they stood for and this stand rarely faltered.
Your voice that defines who you are in the world must come from within. Once you define yourself by this driving passion, you must stay the course to experience true success.
There have been many movies made, including the recent movie Money Ball, where the lead character pursues what he or she believes in despite bad press, angry critics, and misguided family and friends who think they are saving you when their disbelief is actually standing in your way. Yet these protagonists of the movies believe in their cause, and themselves, until they finally succeed.
In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell claims that you can master something if you put 10,000 hours into your learning and practice. You can lead a remarkably impactful and lucrative life if you focus, commit and let your belief in your dream drive your decisions.
Short of hitting the 10,000 hours mark, the following tips will help you feel both successful and fulfilled if you take the time to learn as you grow.
- Be aware of what you want. I have coached many people, including my Chinese participants, on noticing what gifts they offer and what tasks excite them. When you combine your talents with your joy, you can begin to identify what life path will be most successful for you regardless of what your neighbors are doing. Then 1) create your vision, 2) identify what will get in the way of achieving it and 3) make plans you can flex with as the world around you changes keeping your vision in mind.
- Absorb what the critics say as information. Weigh their words against your plans, keeping your voice as the final arbitrator. The naysayer’s words might help you overcome roadblocks as you move on your chosen path. This way, people aren’t roadblocks, they are just data providers.
- Be patient and make small tests. As you move on your chosen path, be observant so you can identify what works and what doesn’t. See mistakes as guideposts that keep you going in the right direction after you stumble. Write your goals down and write “victory” next to each one as you achieve it. Don’t give up.
- Help others realize their dreams. When most of your conversations are about possibilities instead of problems, you stay in a positive mindset for longer periods of time. You entrench the habit of positive thinking while helping others around you find their way as well.
Don’t let anyone or any trend define your business, career and life path for you. Let your own voice rise above the critics and the glitter. And please don’t settle for doing work that pays the bills, at least in the long run. Define your own life and you will be the winner in the end no matter what happens along the way.