We all know it’s impossible to reach a destination without a clear sense of where we’re going. Sometimes we know our destination, but have no idea how to get there, so we end up stuck right where we are.
Short actionable steps
The best way to get the ball rolling to is break your goal down into short actionable steps. You want to run the marketing department of your company, but you are in an entry level position. Sitting in your chair thinking about moving up will keep you in chair. Write down concrete steps you can take on a daily/weekly/monthly basis that will get you incrementally closer. Figure out the purpose of each action. Where it will get you? Whose attention it will capture?
Demonstrate your abilities, your dedication and your ambition and you will be invited into that comfortable office.
Don’t float, steer!
The problem many people have is they float through life, just doing whatever comes up with no real direction. You may end up where you want to go that way, but who knows how long it will take. Or what kinds of eddies you’ll have to spin through on the way. Better to take control of the winds and use them to steer your vessel where you choose to go.
Write it down
Goals are the key. Clear, defined, and plausible. Know your endpoint, and know all the steps you need to take to get there. If you are confused go back and re-read your goal map. It will probably need revising along the way so don’t get waylaid by that. Adjust as necessary and press on.
Keep your goals top of mind you will keep yourself motivated. When your attitude wanes, remind yourself, “Right now it’s hard, but by staying the course I will navigate my way to that marketing director chair in the corner office.”
In 2016 over 40.7 million people bought Dell computers. Dell has 14% of the PC market. If you yourself don’t own one, you probably know someone who does. Dell, founded by Michael Dell, is one of the world’s largest technology infrastructure companies. Forbes ranked Michael Dell as the 36th richest person in the world.
Many of the world’s rich, build on family fortunes. Dell is not one of those. At eight years old he invested his earning from part time jobs in stocks and precious metals. He worked as a dishwasher at age twelve (and was quickly promoted to Maitre D’) When he was fifteen years old and working at Radio Shack, he bought his first computer. An Apple 11, with the intention of taking it apart to see how it worked.
Michael Dell was focused on what he did from the get-go. By the time he was in pre-med at the University of Texas, he had started a side business of putting together and selling upgrade kits for personal computers. From there it’s easy to see how this person steered his ambitions into 14% market share today.
Where you put your energies
Michael Dell knew early on he wanted to go into business (with the intention of entering business early he applied to take a high school equivalency exam at age eight) and he put all of his energies into his ambitions. Many of us know what we want to do. That’s not the issue. The issue is what we decide not to do – the other things that keep us from pursing the thing we want. Some of those other things might include TV, or hours spent scrolling.
It could be how you choose to spend your free time. Is it all dedicated to having fun or do you use it to take courses or meet with people who could improve your chances for the success you say you want?
Lessons learned from learning to drive
When you’re learning to drive they tell say that if you lose control of the car you need to point the wheel in the direction you want to go. Life is like that. Distractions can take us in a million directions away from what we want to do. The key to success is to keep our attention and energies on our destination.
To reach the success you’re after what you choose not to do can be as important as what you choose to do.
Quincy Jones has had the sort of career most people don’t even bother to dream of – because it seems too spectacular to be true. 79 Grammy Award nominations (and 28 Grammys). First black American (along with partner Bob Russell) to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song – for The Eyes of Love from the movie Banning. He also became the first black American to be nominated twice in the same year with another nomination for his score of the film In Cold Blood. He was the first African American to be the musical director and conductor of the Academy Awards ceremony in 1995. Inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2013, Jones was named by Time Magazine as one of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th century.
Share a little share a lot
Quincy Jones is a music man. Passionate about music and entertainment. He didn’t share a little of what he was good at with the world, he shared everything he had and look at the stupendous impact he had.
You may already know what you’re good at. Maybe you know you’re a good artist or good with math or good at organizing people. If you already know then go ahead and share a little of it, make a picture for someone, help a friend with math, volunteer to help organize an event close to your heart.
Everyone is good at something
You may think you’re average in just about everything. Even if that’s what you think, it isn’t true. Have you considered listening skills? The ability to make people smile? A certain way with animals? Each of us plays at least a single note of potential. By sharing a little of our individual music we can create a harmonious wonderful world for all to enjoy.
What do you choose to do with your life? Are you pursing a career in sales? In the medical profession? Marketing? Do you want to be working with your hands or do you prefer a behind the scenes job? What you choose doesn’t matter as much as feeling good about your choice.
No matter what it is we’ve chosen, not everyone is going to agree. For instance you might really love numbers and want to work as an accountant, while your mother, the lawyer, believes you could have a fantastic career in law. You know she’s right, you could also make a career for yourself as a lawyer, but it is not what you want to do. You don’t believe that in the long term that will bring you fulfillment.
When a teacher or a counsellor doesn’t agree with our choices, it’s easy to discount their opinion and keep working toward our ambitions. When it’s a parent or friend that disagrees with our decisions it’s harder to stay the course.
You should absolutely listen to the opinions of others and consider their viewpoints, but in the end you have to remember this is your life. To make the most of it, you should be happy with your choices. Sometimes that means standing up to friends and family and saying, No I choose something else.
Jim Carrey famously wrote himself a check for ten million dollars for acting services rendered.
When Jim Carrey wrote that check he wasn’t already an established actor on the way to the huge bucks. He was a poor, wannabe actor in Los Angles with thousands of other wannabes all striving for the same big breaks. Jim kept going to auditions, putting himself out there on stand-up stages, failing and succeeding, always with that check in his wallet. Ten years after writing the check, Jim Carrey made that ten million dollars for Dumb And Dumber.
Of course, there was no guarantee that Jim Carrey would actually ever make the ten million dollars he was striving for, but fail or succeed, he never stopped working toward it.
If fear of failure is keeping you from pursuing the things you love, you need to remember you can fail at anything – a thing you love or a thing you don’t really care about. Even if you fail at the thing you love, you spent tons of time doing and working toward a thing you love. That in itself is success!
The Jackie Chan we all know and love is a fun loving martial arts movie star with over 150 films behind him. He has stars on the Hong Kong Avenue of Stars and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Every time you see a picture of Jackie Chan he looks like he’s on top of the world. You would never guess that he started out, essentially, at bottom of the world.
Jackie Chan and his parents were refugees from the Chinese Civil War, but that never slowed young Jackie down. His mother called him Cannonball because he was a non-stop ball of rolling activity.
After he failed his first year of primary school, Jackie was sent to the China Drama Academy where he rolled that propensity for activity into rigorous training in the martial arts and acrobatics. That led him to the Seven Little Fortunes – a group made up of the school’s top students.
Jackie started performing in films at the age of five. By seventeen he was working as a stuntman for Bruce Lee. Despite all the work he was getting, Jackie Chan still wasn’t making a name for himself. For a while he went back to school and worked in construction, but he never stopped working in film and he never stopped striving. He finally found the success he was after when he started adding comedy to his work.
Starting life as a refugee didn’t control Jackie’s fate, neither did failure early in life or a lack of success later on. With the help of his parents, Jackie was able to use his overactive tendencies to his advantage. When he couldn’t find success as a straight martial artist he found the comedy that was evident in the out-takes of his movies.
Instead of letting his circumstances control him, Jackie made those circumstances work for him, essentially changing the circumstances to suit him better.
What impresses you when you first meet someone? The car they drive? The Neighbourhood they live in? The clothes they wear? Those are the sorts of things that might grab your attention in the first few seconds, but after you’ve known someone for a while the exteriors matter less.
You start to pay more attention to what they do, how they treat others, their work ethic, their concern for the things they believe in.
Who are the people that impress you most? Are you impressed by what they have or what they do? Do you have a boss or a co-worker who always goes out of his or her way to help others? A neighbour who shovels the walk of the elderly couple across the way? A friend who drops by with a pot of soup when you’re sick? Those are the people we respect. The people we care about. The people we should strive to be.
When Commissioner Gordon shines the bat light in the sky he’s not doing it to summon a guy in a bat suit, he’s doing it to summon the person who he knows will help his city.
The outside stuff is cool, but ultimately, it’s transient. The things that make a lasting impression, the things that define us are the things we do.