When most people talk about “success,” they’re often referring to outer things like money, title, and promotions. But in reality, these outer accomplishments almost never bring a lasting sense of happiness or success. They’re fleeting, and the goalposts are constantly shifting.
Instead, real success is a deeper, more satisfying experience of the heart, mind, and spirit, where the individual has committed to continuous, bold and empowering action that helps him/her feel confident, authoritative, and valuable to others in ways that are personally meaningful.
In over 10 years of working with career professionals, I’ve seen that the majority of people who reach out to me are actually not in a state of readiness for the success they desire. They think they are, but they haven’t taken the right actions or developed appropriate mindsets and behaviors that would help them reach – and sustain — the success they dream of. They’re just not there yet.
There are nine core categories of career success readiness that need to be mastered for professionals to achieve the success and fulfillment they long for (and these applies to any industry, field or function, and any level, for both men and women).
These nine categories of career success readiness are:
Understanding yourself deeply
You can’t achieve success on terms that are personally meaningful to you if you don’t know yourself. Each of us has a distinct set of values, interests, histories, standards of integrity, non-negotiables and preferences that make up our own unique picture of success. If you don’t know yourself intimately, the outcomes you’re focused on won’t end up generating the experience of success you want.
Using your natural talents>/b>
I learned this the hard way, as have many of my clients – just because you’re great at a certain skill set doesn’t mean you enjoy using it in your work. The most successful, fulfilled professionals use talents every day in their work that come naturally to them, that emerged early in their lives and they enjoy immensely. You need to identify those natural talents that you use instinctively, with ease and grace. Those are the talents to focus on in your career if you want a lasting experience of success and happiness.
Engaging with people you respect and admire (including mentors and sponsors)
You can’t create lasting success if you operate alone, in a vacuum, with no one in your corner to support you. If you find yourself isolated, with no role models, mentors, or sponsors, it’s a sign that you’re not ready for the success you dream of. You need fabulous people in your support community to help bolster you to the next level.
Setting goals and making decisions that support you
The type of success most people want isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s not a prize that just falls in your lap. Forget the idea of a tipping point where you suddenly wake up “having it all.” Success requires hard work (often tedious and painstaking) and continued commitment. It also takes effective decision-making and S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) goal-setting.
Committing continuously to your growth
A key to helping people grow exponentially is helping them stretch out of their comfort zone and close their “power gaps.” Power gaps are areas where people feel most insecure, vulnerable, and ashamed. When people address, heal or revise those areas, the growth is quick and astounding. What are the areas in your life and work where you feel “less than” and insecure – and what can you do to close those gaps today? Relating in a healthy way to money, and having a keen understanding of financial and business realities Lasting success will elude you if you’re broken down in how you view, and deal with, money. Many of us have a damaged relationship with money, and are forever chasing or resenting it, instead of attracting, embracing, and appreciating it. Money is a form of energy, and if you’re blocked around it, so will be your experience of success. In addition, if you’re running your own business, you need a solid, emotionally-neutral understanding of the financial and business realities you’re facing. A “Build It and They Will Come” mentality without a solid financial and business grounding is a recipe for disaster.
Balancing and integrating life and work (and dealing effectively with stress)
I know so many people who’ve achieved outer “success,” only to have sacrificed everything in the process. They wake up, often in midlife, to the horrible realization that they’ve given up everything that matters to them, just to rise to the top of the heap in their field. If you aren’t able to integrate or balance successfully your work endeavors with your identity as an individual outside of the work you do, you’ll suffer. And if the stress and strain of your work is making you sick and sad every day, it’s time to rethink your definition of success.
Being of use in the world
Thousands of people hit midlife and suddenly feel an aching disappointment – they realize that what they’ve been clamoring for in their 20s and 30s now feels empty and meaningless. Perhaps it’s seeing the world through older, wiser eyes, or experiencing the mortality of their parents and friends that awakens people to wanting to do something more purposeful in the world. (This was me, and here’s a brief video of my story.) Whatever the cause, midlife professionals often wake up to the desire to build a new legacy that they can be proud of. In the end, you won’t feel successful if your work is meaningless to you.
Marketing yourself in a compelling way
Finally, in today’s times, because of the global competition we all face, if you can’t market yourself and communicate powerfully about your great talents, you won’t succeed in the way you hope. Gone are the days in which you could leave marketing to someone else. You have to know how you’re special and amazing, and how you stand apart from the best of the best in your field, and share that openly and confidently. You need to be your own best advocate, and you can do it without being a braggart. You just have to learn how.