3 Requirements to Building a Strong Foundation for Your Career

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Accomplishing goals, whether personal or professional, is often more difficult than we expect. You have to commit to goal setting – this is something many are more comfortable having others do for them. People may want to improve their lives and careers, but don’t always know how to start the journey. Others are fortunate enough to be awakened when least expected – to discover the gifts (unique talents) bestowed upon them.  

When you experience the latter, it feels as if you have a secret that you are reluctant to share – because you believe that no one will understand or appreciate the magnitude of this defining moment.  But as a leader, it is your responsibility to open doors and create opportunities for those who have earned it.  By sharing, you can stop the slow-down of progress and allow individuality to take flight.  

As the workplace and the marketplace continue to tell us that it is becoming less about the business defining the individual and much more about the individual defining the business, what are you doing to allow others to discover their gifts and reach their full potential?  

Here are three requirements to build a strong foundation for exceeding your aspirations throughout your career and life’s journey – and helping others along the way.

1. Take Ownership to Stay Relevant  

Most people become irrelevant in their careers because they listen to those that don’t understand what makes them unique and gives them distinction.  This is why it is incumbent upon you to take ownership of your career by doing everything possible to outwork and outsmart everyone else.  This will require you to challenge the status quo and become more mindful about who you associate yourself with.

Taking ownership like this requires action.  The action you take in pursuit of being relevant may often be met with failure, envy and misunderstanding of your points of view.  I’ve experienced many times throughout my career that the best measurement of success in your pursuit of relevancy – is when the marketplace moves in your favor. In other words, the perspectives you share become valued – and you are welcomed into ecosystems where what makes you relevant equals the demand you were seeking to create.

When seeking to be relevant, you will either create new marketplace demand or you will latch onto a marketplace segment that is still maturing.  If you don’t experience either, you are off track. But never stop believing in yourself and never ignore what the marketplace is telling you.

2. Use Diversity of Thought to Create Constructive Disruption

To exceed your aspirations, you may have to choose unconventional ways to get to your desired end game. I am not referring to unethical acts, but rather the ability to connect what appears to be unrelated into a well thought-out cohesive plan.  

For example, how many times have you dealt with long-standing employees that are so set in their ways that it makes it difficult to introduce new ideas and ideals?  These are the types of people that don’t value differences and are against new ways of thinking. They are comfortable doing things the way they’ve been done for years and maintaining the status quo.  

Instead, embrace diversity of thought and be a constructive disruptor. Don’t allow people to confuse diversity of thought as a form of disorganized thinking. It is only disorganized to those that have grown complacent and lack courage to challenge the status quo. You can’t be aspirational without being a constructive disruptor.

3. Have the Wisdom to Prevail when Faced with Adversity

How you respond when faced with adversity is what defines your ability to achieve your career aspirations.  Adversity is very big when it is all you can see. But it is very small when in the presence of all else that surrounds you. The key to overcoming adverse circumstances is a matter of focus. Zoom in on it and you will see no opportunity. Zoom out and you will see it in the full context of all else that surrounds you — and many opportunities previously unseen will come into view.

Adversity is a matter of perspective. It’s about tapping your wisdom (knowing what to do with the insights and knowledge that you have) to make the right decisions, keep the right attitude, and deal with complex circumstances and diversity of thought. Successful people have mastered the ability to think on their feet by allowing their wisdom to prevail during times of adversity.

When we have the courage to do these three things, we define the course that will enable us to strengthen our beliefs, self-trust and potential and avoid the traps of complacency along the way. Every successful person has made the choice to be courageous.  And every courageous act opens them up to the opportunity to exceed their goals and aspirations – to not only be successful, but significant.

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