I’ve always believed that success depends largely on managing your own professional growth, being willing to take risks, and staying open to new ideas. My dad died when I was nine, leaving my mother with five young children. Self-reliance and taking responsibility were traits I had to learn very early in life.
I’ve learned through the years that successful performance hinges on our ability to integrate what we’ve learned and apply the relevant skills and knowledge to any situation; hence, the more experiences and challenges we have, the better we become. My philosophy has always been to perform on today’s job and go for the learning experience; then opportunities for growth and development will follow—even if it means moving to another geographic location or out of your comfort zone, which is much more difficult.
It’s beneficial to have several informal mentors throughout your career. A good way to gain insight from someone you admire and respect, without asking them to commit to a full-time mentoring role, is to seek out occasional input on difficult projects or issues you may be working. For example, approach asenior member of your organization with, “I have an issue that I would like to discuss with you. I’m thinking of doing XYZ, and would like to know what you think, to see if I’m on the right track.” Just remember, it’s important that you have a solution to the problem pre-defined, so you won’t appear to be asking your mentor to solve the problem for you.
No matter what your skills and experience, another key attribute to success is the ability to work well with all levels of people. You may be the smartest person in the room, but if you can’t get along with others, you will not succeed.
Bottom line is, do your best and don’t set limits on what you think you can do. Be flexible. Be willing to seek out new projects. Learn something new, and step out of your comfort zone. And one of the best things you can do for yourself is to learn to forgive yourself for not knowing all the answers when you’reknee-deep in new territory.