More than a third of our lives are spent in pursuit of our livelihood. Too often this is not a celebration but instead an obligation and a decision by default. We are put on a career track before we even know what we truly want to pursue and by the time we figure it out we have already achieved a level of success and financial reward that to start anew would mean setbacks and sacrifice. Unfortunately without the willingness to take risks and sometimes take a new path, we wind up living our work life by default rather than by our own design.
Regardless of where you find yourself in your career there are ways that you can celebrate that commitment and benefit from your unique skills and abilities (even if your genuine talent rests on another path.)
Lunch with the Bunch
Both for business owners too busy in their own fields to connect to others and for those in corporate America who feel pigeon holed in their own specialties, mix it up. That is make a point once a month to lunch with others outside of your expertise. For business owners this means connecting in a meaningful way with other entrepreneurs in other fields. It can create new perspectives and allow us to see new ways to do old things. As a member of corporate America take a look at what other areas of expertise your company offers and connect with some of those individuals. It will give you a broader understanding of what your company brings to the table as well as provide opportunities to explore unique synergies amongst diverse divisions.
So often we are too close to the forest to see the trees. Broadening our circle of influence is a successful way to expand our own potential and affiliations.
Supplier Thank You
Do you regularly say thank you to those that supply your business? Even if corporate do you know what your company does to say thank you to vendors? No business can survive in a vacuum and while we all are suppliers to someone else, we often forget that we are kept afloat and our success depends on those that supply us. I often send or deliver boxes of Godiva chocolates to my vendors as random thank you. I don’t wait for the holidays as we all are inundated then, it is the season for thank you. What about the rest of the year? When the ladies at my drapery workroom are really slammed, I’ll send in pizza for lunch and at least twice a year I send flowers for no reason at all, just to brighten their offices.
Think about your printer, your computer tech, your advertising executive, the cleaning service, the phone repairman, the security system expert. When was the last time you showed them thank you, not just said it.
Celebrate your career by being gracious with others.
Women/Men on the Move
There are many opportunities to grow your mind and your career if you pay attention and make the time. There are roundtables you can become an active member of, and groups for both men and women dedicated to grooming top executives or cultivating entrepreneurship. These are great chances to connect with others beyond your field and learn about their expertise and find potential synergies. It is a question of whether you are ready to lead the same life everyday or create a new and unique experience daily. All of life is about growing and it is only when we stop growing that we truly start to die. Pushing our boundaries, challenging out limitations, and growing our potential can give us a present beyond our dreams and a future without limits.
Many of us have requirement for continuing education built into our careers with necessary certifications or levels of achievement. Even without this it is essential that we stay on top of the latest developments and introductions with classes offered by professional industry organizations, trade shows, guest speakers, and more. We often do this early on in our careers but then get caught up in our success and progress and forget to continue our brilliance. We leave these opportunities on the table for those in the early stages of their careers and in doing so run the risk of becoming the dinosaurs we read about.
Technology can make learning more accessibly and convenient but it can’t replace the synergy of a live group and often more is gained by discussion and listening to other queries than by the actual lecture itself.
Celebrate your career by expanding your mind and maintaining your edge.
Conferences to Connect
Anyone who has been knows that trade shows and conventions are a lot of work. I don’t mean just for those that do the planning but also for the attendees. There are always tough choices to be made between sessions to attend and then there is all the connecting you want to take advantage of. I often find that the true experts are most accessible at these events. It seems everyone else thinks they will be unapproachable so don’t even try, leaving a wide open entrance for me to share in their experiences. Try this next time you attend and event and single out one or two of the presenters you’d like a minute with. Sometimes you can wrangle an hour of their time consulting or snag a seat next to them at lunch or dinner and glean a tidbit or two that can transform your journey from the on ramp to the fast lane.
Be brave and take a chance. We too often are intimidated (even if we won’t admit it) by someone else’s perceived success and stature. There will always be those greater than us and those lesser than us, it is up to each of us to determine where we will stand.
Share the Wealth
Be generous with your time, your expertise and your rewards. When I taught “Interior Design as a Second Career” at Evening at Emory for over a decade I was always amazed when my students (busy professionals) exploring the interior design career told me that I was the first professional to truly freely share with them the inside scoop including salaries, hours and the nitty gritty. In fact my favorite compliment came from a gal who came up to me after class and thanked me for showing her that design was not for her but she had decided what was and was thrilled to have made the decision to pursue it. You see my job wasn’t to convince or sell anyone but just share my knowledge and experience wholly and completely so any one person listening could make up their own mind. There are others who felt empowered and encouraged by what I described and have decided to pursue it.
By simply being ourselves and contributing our personal experiences and wealth of talent to others we can make a world of difference.