Few things are as discouraging of thinking up a great idea, spending hours, days or weeks perfecting it and then when you present it to your superiors…they rip it apart. The hard part about this is to not take it personally. I repeat, do not take it personally.
This has been one of the hardest lessons I have learned in my past few months of work. I could have spent hours and days working my proposal to perfection, but when I present it, I am told to change over 50% of the idea or simply receive a “No” to all of it. Its beyond discouraging, but it wasn’t me they disapproved of, it was my idea and it wasn’t because they didn’t like me or had some vengeance to take out on me…it was simply business.
While it may be easier to complain and b*tch about the fact that all your hard work was flushed down the toilet, use this as an opportunity to blow them out of the water next time. Instead of stewing away at your desk all bitter and upset with thoughts of “it was a great idea, they just hate me” forming in your mind, think about how you are going to impress them next time. Peter Pan and Tinkerbell said it best, “think happy thoughts and you will fly”, well keep a positive attitude, work harder and you will fly…fly right into success!
So, when you get discouraged and start to take things personally, follow this simple idea…just think happy thoughts and work harder. Remember, no one ever became successful by complaining.
Robertson Davies wisely stated, “Extraordinary people survive under the most terrible circumstances and they become more extraordinary because of it”. These wise words have got me thinking about another topic of what it takes to be successful. It’s quite simple, be extraordinary.Now while these two words may seem complicated, if you truly analyze its meaning you will understand why its so important. It’s hard to be successful if you do the same thing as everyone else. By being just another white sheep in the herd one is likely to not be noticed. It is those who are noticed that get what they want and isn’t what we all want success?
To be extraordinary is quite simple, just find the boundaries that ordinary people cease to cross and cross them. Be willing to go out of your comfort zone, stretch you capabilities, and understand that sometimes these things will be uncomfortable but in the end the rewards will trump those feelings.
I know this all sounds like a lot of work but no one ever said success came easy; you have to be willing to work for it. If your preparation meets opportunity, aka you get lucky, then you might have a chance at success. But prepare to stand out; be extraordinary.
In conclusion, to be successful is to rise above the rest, to stick out, to be unique…in short, to be extraordinary (goodness, I seem to say this a lot…that’s a hint that it’s words you shouldn’t forget). What you do to be extraordinary is your decision but keep in mind that no one ever achieved anything without taking chances at least once.
Lets be honest, who you know can get you a very long way in life, but it won’t get you all the way. I know this sounds like another one of my ramblings but trust me, there is a method to this madness I call “Success Techniques”.
Let me begin by saying that I know a lot of people, people from every stretch of life. I know bartenders and bar owners, I know bankers and bank managers, I know doctors and nurses and I know company CEOs and company secretaries. But the big thing I know, other than knowing so many people, is that connections with them are only helpful to a certain degree.
Let’s take for example getting your kid into college. Say that you personally know the Assistant Director of Admissions (the one who selects who gets into the university or not). Now this connection can prove to be very helpful, but if your child is a dumb-butt and just doesn’t have the criteria to get in, no matter how much the Admissions Counselor tries, you kid isn’t going to get admitted. In this case, knowing that person in the position of power didn’t help that much because although you knew “the who” (Admissions Counselor), “the what” (your credentials) weren’t enough to get you into the university.
Lets say you know someone who owns a company. This company has a position open and you are more than qualified for it, you apply and get it. The mere fact that you know the owners probably helped you 1% but in truth it was your qualifications that got you the position. In the game of business, acquaintances mean a lot less than qualifications because if you are going to work for them, then it will cost money (to pay you, duh) and if you are not capable of doing the tasks as assigned for your position, then not only are you wasting the company’s money but its time too. This is often if not always, equally as valuable.
So yes, while knowing someone on the inside can get you “inside”, that doesn’t mean you automatically get to stay there. And yes, I am fully aware that people often say, “Its not what you know, but who you know”, and be that as it may, knowing people will often only get your foot in the door, it is your capabilities, credentials and other abilities that really push you through that door.
So remember, connections will only get you so far, it is your abilities that will get you all the way.
They always say that mother knows best. Well, I guess my mother does know best, she has always told me to be positive and good things would come. I thought that was a bunch of hooey but I figured I would try it and find out for myself, after all, what did I have to lose? After 24 years of pretty good stuff happening with a pretty good attitude, I decided to try it with a great attitude and see if great stuff happens. Guess what…mom was right!When you tell yourself that good things are going to happen, that positive attitude shows. Not exactly in a physical way of course because there is no neon sign on your forehead that lights up but more psychologically. When you are happier and more relaxed, people can sense that.
Take for example going into a job interview, if you walk in confident and knowing that you are the best candidate for the position, you are more likely to make an impression and therefore have a better chance of getting a job. If you walk in slouching with self-doubt, then chances are you aren’t going to impress anyone.
If you look at all the successful people in the world you might come to realize that all of them have a positive outlook on life. When was the last time you found a pessimistic successful person?
It really is that simple. When you are positive about things, it shows and positive things are more likely to happen to you. So be positive…its that easy!
I find myself writing this post at a time where support is crucial, in the beginning. When you are starting out on a new career path or a project it can often be reassuring to know that others, especially those with nothing invested in it, support you. I find myself realizing that it is not just the belief in myself that pushes me everyday, its my collection of personal cheerleaders waving their invisible pom poms.
The climb up the success ladder can be lonely and its nice to know there is someone out there who knows you can make it to the top. When you start your journey up the ladder, you may start out alone or you may start out with some support, either way, eventually during your journey you will find your true personal cheerleader(s).
Sometimes they are family or friends, sometimes they are mentors, and sometimes they are just bystanders who think you have what it takes. Regardless of who your cheerleader may be, having one (or many) can make a world of a difference.
The feeling that someone other than yourself believes in you can often be the only push you really need to succeed. It no longer becomes about being the best or succeeding at one little thing, but now becomes about being even better than anyone thought you could be and always striving to achieve more than you originally set out to. Keeping everyone else on their toes is a great push to keep yourself going.
When it comes to success, take all the help you can get because encouragement is often the biggest help anyone can offer. I am blessed enough to have more cheer squads full of people with pom poms supporting and cheering me on then I can count, but I will never take any one of them for granted because they show me that my goals of success can’t be just a crazy idea if so many people believe in me.
Find your own personal cheerleader and cheer squad and you too will find your journey to success a lot easier than it looks.
Unfortunate and saddening events happen to everyone and sometimes you just want to cry about it, however, the office or a work event are not one of the places or times to do it. The ability to compartmentalize your feelings until an appropriate time is a skill that even the most successful businessmen (and women) are hard pressed to be experts on so don’t worry if you aren’t a pro…yet.
Sometimes things happen and all you want to do is cry or retaliate at the drop of a hat but that can’t happen when you have work to do. However, the nice thing about having work to do is that you have a diversion or something to get your mind off of personal life aspects. This can be quite convenient when you have something happen that you just don’t want to think about, like death.
I recently lost my dog 2 hours before I was scheduled to work an event. At this event I would not only be in public with my employers but clients as well so the ability to keep my composure was vital at that moment and I wasn’t sure if I could handle it. Luckily for me, there was still one ounce of rationale left in me after Hobbes’ (my dog) passing and I knew what I had to do, get my mind off of him. (No, I am not heartless, quite the contrary) What I have now realized was that at that time, I wasn’t able to fully handle the loss of my dog, and what I needed was a diversion. Focusing on something else would allow me to subconsciously sort out my feelings about Hobbes’ death before I was consciously ready to handle them. Although my boss said I could have the night off, I know that both he and my family knew that the best thing for me was to work the event because it would force me to get my mind off of the negative events of that day and have something to smile about. Boy, do I know some smart people! (For the record: I absolutely love my job and am always smiling when I’m doing my job)
In the end, the event went off with a smash, the client and involved parties from work were pleased and I had pulled of the king of all ruses…that everything was hunky dory. Only the DJ (my boss) and myself knew that behind my smile and bubbly personality was a girl dying to hug her doggy one last time. I think that if I was able to fool hundreds of people that night that everything was alright, then I have succeeded in the ability to compartmentalize my feelings when it comes down to crunch time.
A skill like this can actually be practiced but you need to force yourself because when disaster strikes and you need to focus on work, you are really going to hope you have perfected the skill of compartmentalizing. Start off easy like get your mind off of grocery shopping or paying bills. You can also try doing it with relationships (the ability to divert feelings after a breakup is really helpful in life) Its a lot harder than I make it sound, this is why you need to practice. The ability to divert your thoughts is more about the rational than the complete loss of thought. You need to tell yourself that you cannot focus on personal things until you are done with work and just put all your energy into work. After all, you can’t pay your bills without money and you can’t get money if you don’t work. Same thing goes for grocery shopping, unless there is a market inside your cubicle, you can’t go grocery shopping at work so it’s going to have to wait.
The nice thing about having work to focus on is that you can put all your effort and energy into work rather than what you have going on in your personal life. Don’t forget that it took time for the problem to develop and it will take time to solve.
So yes, while losing a loved one or breaking up with someone is sad, there is a time and place for everything and work is neither one of them so the ability to compartmentalize your feelings is vital.
The biggest piece of advice I can give anyone who is looking to jump into a new industry is FIND A MENTOR! I have absolutely no idea how I became so blessed to find the ones that I have now but I am not letting them go anywhere (sorry guys, you’re stuck with me).ANYWAY…
Mentors are like little gifts from the heavens that only release you on your own once your wings have developed. However, they never actually leave. Mentors (good ones at least) will always be either watching over you or be a short email (thank you technology) away.
I could go on an on about what it takes to be a good mentor or why my mentors are the best (which I would love to do) but I want to focus on why you need a mentor, because trust me…everyone needs one.
Anyone with a bachelor’s degree in psychology or fan of The Big Bang Theory must be familiar with Schrodinger’s cat. To spare the gruesome details think of it this way, a cat is in the box and he could be dead or alive (details of why this is will be spared for squeamish readers), but the only way to know if this cat is dead or alive is to open the box. So until the box is opened, the cat is neither dead nor alive.
Let us add some real world application to this since not many of us (I hope) have a cat in a box. Assume you have just taken a huge exam, like the NC Bar exam (thank you Julie Lamberth for this example) and you are waiting to hear the results. Until you receive the results in your hand, you have neither passed nor failed so there is no need to stress. (Shameless inset to congratulate Laura Ross and Julie Lamberth for passing their respective state Bar exams)
Not everyone is taking a life-changing exam anytime soon so let us look at this in aspect of landing a job. Oftentimes after an interview we expect to receive an immediate decision of whether or not we got the job and if we don’t hear back immediately then we assume that we didn’t get the job. The truth could be that they want to interview everyone, or they need to do a background check before admitting you or simply you didn’t get the job. You won’t find out until they contact you so there is no need to get your “panties in a bunch”.
To summarize all this in a few simple words, you haven’t failed until you have the proof that you failed. And tying into yesterday’s post, every failure is technically a success if you look at it from the right angle sooooooo, you haven’t failed until you have proof you have failed and after that it is up to you to determine how successful that failure was. (Anyone else enjoying my rambling rants as much as I do?)
Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. If you analyze every outcome in your life as just another way of how not to do something, then you have already succeeded.
I will be the first to admit I have not always been this way, I used to have a negative outlook on life and considered even the smallest of successes a failure. But when I as forced to step back and truly analyze all my achievements, both good and bad…they were all successful in some way!
The hardest part about turning all your failures into successes is the act of analyzing them. Often times, our mistakes and failures are locked in a trunk, tied to a cement block and throw into the ocean, so never to be thought of again. If we don’t learn from our failures and mistakes then that’s all they will ever be…failures. Always keep in mind that if you don’t move forward and grow than you are just going backwards. Remember, in the game of life, not going anywhere is just not an option, nor is it possible.
Like myself, Thomas Edison was a very wise man, he knew that failure is just another step on the journey to success. He is quoted in saying “I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward”.
In my opinion, of all the cliché quotes, “when one door closes, another door opens” takes the cake as the most cliché. The problem with this quote is that when that first door closes we often don’t stop to analyze why we were there to begin with or how it benefited us in the slightest way.
I have decided to take this cliché quote and adapt it…Samantha Style. Before I “Samantha Style” the quote I need to think about what message I am truly trying to convey. In this particular case I cannot stop thinking about my references and contacts. Most of the contacts I have acquired were from the many tasks and random activities I have participated in throughout the years. I believe that the reason my resource, reference and contact list is so broad and lengthy is because even after I left companies, schools and activities I did my best to not burn those relationships or “bridges”. I knew that someday some of those contacts MIGHT prove useful and perhaps we could all benefit from each other. I believe in the “you scratch my back, I will scratch yours” theory (again another cliché quote).
Now that I have the basic idea of how to make the age-old quote less platitudinous (my new vocabulary word) I can begin on my quote adaptation. Keeping within the “door” theme I finally came up with…
“ When one door opens, another door closes but never lock that first door.”
So remember, when another opportunity comes knocking, don’t lock the old door because you never know when you might need to go back through it for help or assistance.