A Model for Career Success

Over time, society has increasingly expected instant gratification and uses of an “easy” button to achieve a desired result.  Unfortunately, when it comes to the pursuit of career success, it’s not near that easy.  A lot of time and effort is usually involved.  I’m sure you have a story about a 25 year old that is already a multi-millionaire and that’s great.  Maybe it was pure luck but maybe there was more to it.

The purpose of this article is to give you a framework for visualizing the key ingredients to long-term, personal career success, however you define that term.

Gordon’s Target Model (weightings)

50%  Drive and Determination
20%  Intelligence
20%  Common Sense
10%  Luck

Drive and Determination

It’s clear from the suggested relative weightings above that I place significance on drive and determination.  Otherwise referred to as “fire in the belly”.  It’s amazing how far that can get you if it’s genuine.  What do you do when a door is slammed in your face or someone tells you “no”?   What if those things happen numerous times rather than just once or twice?  Do you lose interest and give up or do you keep charging forward?

How do you get drive and determination?  Well, for many it comes easiest when there is genuine and personal passion for the thing that’s being worked on.  That “thing” could be a problem you’re product solves or a significant benefit it provides.

Another tool to try is positive reinforcement using phrases you say to yourself from time to time, perhaps 10 times each night before you go to sleep or in the morning when you wake up.  You’d be amazed how effective a phrase like “I will do whatever is necessary to reach my goal” is.

What are you willing to sacrifice for long-term career success?  It usually comes at some cost (trade-offs), so I’m not suggesting it’s for everyone.

Intelligence and Common Sense

Let’s talk about intelligence versus common sense, otherwise referred to as “book smart” versus “street smart”.  I strongly believe that 1) they are different things  2) they are equally valuable  3) extra strength in one can help offset a weakness in the other.  Having said this, being strong in both is a HUGE advantage.

An issue to realize is that intelligence can be improved with effort but common sense is mostly ingrained.  Common sense can gradually be enhanced over time but it comes from a collection of life experiences, both personal and business.  Think about the way wisdom is gained over time.

Luck

Regarding luck, I don’t want to just flip it out there as some ethereal thing that you have no control over.  In fact, 1st century Roman philosopher Seneca, American President Abraham Lincoln and others are credited with saying that “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”.

So if you want to influence the 10% I attribute to luck, then engage in “preparation”, which essentially means planning.  Do you have goals?  Have you written them down or communicated them to others?  Have you come up with a plan to achieve your goals and put those plans into some sort of roadmap or phases?  That’s what “preparation” means.

The way I see it:

  • Someone with strong drive/determination and intelligence, moderate common sense (half credit), and decent preparation (half credit for luck) has 85% chance of career success.
  • Someone with strong drive/determination and common sense, moderate intelligence (half credit), and decent preparation (half credit for luck) also has 85% chance of career success.  (notice the only difference is swapping the half credit for intelligence and common sense)
  • Someone that only has strong intelligence, moderate common sense (half credit) and decent preparation (half credit for luck) only has 35% chance of career success.

I realize that life isn’t as analytical as this.  I also realize that it’s extremely hard for people to accurately judge and measure themselves.  But this is actually a suggested thinking and reflection activity rather than an analytical one.

What is “career success”?

I don’t know what career success means to any particular individual but I do feel strongly that these basic guideposts can be used for all that aspire to achieve it.  I also think the results come over time and after some level of consistency in the things mentioned in this article.  Evaluating short windows of time against a career success yardstick might show various ups and downs but the trend towards career success should be positive.

I hope this article gives you a framework to think about and plan for achieving your own career success or helping a friend or loved one do the same.

Advice for New-Found Financial Freedom (College Grads)

So you’re a college graduate that just secured a full-time job and now more money is rolling in than you’ve ever been responsible for.  You’ve heard horror stories about how new-found financial freedom can suddenly turn into a nightmare with just a couple of wrong decisions.  This blog post doesn’t cover obvious problems like driving up credit card debt but instead describes some fundamental principles to guide you.

Warning:  I am not a certified financial advisor/planner.  I’m just a guy that has done well with my own personal investments and has had the benefit of passing advice to two daughters when they graduated from college and got their first job.

Continue reading “Advice for New-Found Financial Freedom (College Grads)”

Tips for Optimizing Your Grades in College

Sorry but no rocket science here.  Mostly common sense, but I can virtually guarantee that following these 7 basic steps will make a huge difference in your grades during college.  I can’t promise a 4.0 GPA but am willing to bet that systematically following these basic principles will add at least a single grade point to your freshman year average versus the typical student.  After a couple of years, most college students naturally figure these things out as they develop and refine their own personal system.  But during your freshman year everything is so new, exciting and DISTRACTING.

Continue reading “Tips for Optimizing Your Grades in College”

10 Golden Rules for Entering College Freshmen

By the time a young adult graduates high school and is ready to head off to college, they shouldn’t need to be given a full set of rules to follow.  After all, moving out of the house means they have the freedom (and burden) if making their own decisions.  Nonetheless, after going through this a couple of times with my kids I decided to capture my personal list of “golden rules”.  They seem so basic and obvious.  But then again aren’t most of life’s rules basic and obvious?  If you are an entering college freshman, check out the list below and see if you can’t stick to it.  Then, if you can remember to do so, look at the list again at the end of your freshman year and see how many of these rules you think are truly Golden.  Continue reading “10 Golden Rules for Entering College Freshmen”

Teaching Your Kid to Ride a Bike – Could It Be This Simple?

How many ways can there possibly be to learn to ride a bike?  Most of us probably use the same method that our parents used with us when we were kids.  And it usually involves some combination of holding onto the seat and/or handle bars while we run along side our learning child.  Then, at some arbitrary point when we think they are ready, we let go.  For a while we run along side, just in case we need to grab quickly.  And then, magically, when we think the kid has it down we let them ride ahead until they decide it’s time to stop and they have no clue how to do so.

The only reason I wrote this particular advice document is because I accidentally stumbled on an alternative method of the “running along side” part of the process.  I have three daughters and used this technique with all three.  In the cases with my older two daughters, after just two times out at about 15 minutes each, they were riding on their own.  In the case of my youngest daughter, I decided to skip the training wheels stage and see if the technique would enable her to learn to ride a bike at the age of three and a half.  It worked, but took about five outings.

If it works for you, pass it along to others.  And sorry, but I don’t have any special hints on braking, wheelies or riding without any hands.  Continue reading “Teaching Your Kid to Ride a Bike – Could It Be This Simple?”