Many managers and leaders have a finish line somewhere in their heads that describes what a successful career looks like, feels like and sounds like. To the exceptional ones, this picture is a vivid one. Unfortunately, when they get to that picture in real life, they are often disillusioned and feel empty. There was no “fanfare” to announce their arrival and soon they are chasing the next dream or goal. For some, this leads to a “what’s the point?” attitude.
The shift that brings relief from this endless chase is the shift from seeking a successful career to seeking significance. I believe you can have both. I have coached many leaders, managers, executives and top government leaders to see them achieve both goals and success, as well as fulfil their sense of significance.
For example, Thomas, a sales executive in one of the financial houses, asked for help on how to achieve success in terms of goals and business objectives as well as in personal life significance. He wanted an inner connection to joy. One of our VIP Coaches checked if he had a life purpose that he could articulate into practical terms and behaviours.
Thomas discovered that he had a huge reservoir of energy and passion for life with which he could work. The driving beliefs of constant personal renewal coupled with regular review created a life of regular recommitment which in turn developed his self-governance. This was a great foundation to work from.
Success or failure is always by design
Leaders and managers that get this right live with a keen sense of well defined purpose. They tend to offer leadership to others that is intentional, focused on outcomes, responsible, appropriate and responsive. Their goals are well articulated and defined with clearly marked outcomes and this adds to their sense of confidence. “A life led from the inside is indeed an attractive life”, said Sally, a marketing director.
Steven Covey in his book, First Things First shares his mission:”To live, to learn to love and leave a legacy.” Can you state your own life mission in one succinct sentence? Exceptional leaders seem to have the meaningful life well defined. A meaningful work is not often defined by the work itself.
Three workers that were building a cathedral all had differing views on what they were doing but the one that said “I am creating a place where folks can experience peace and find God” understood meaningful work. What makes your work meaningful? Is it greater than your own self?
Barbara, a national service customer manager said that she associates with people that give her energy and positivity. It requires diplomacy and persistence to network with people that give you a sense of power and energy. ”The inner beliefs that drive my life are a core source of energy to my life. I often take time out to discover what they mean, are doing for me and to me and how I need to amend those that are hindering my progress.”
In a similar way, Martha has what she terms “her life-board members”. They are friends who share and listen, challenge and ask questions, sometimes the difficult ones too, and respond to her reports of how she is progressing or not.
“This accelerates results while reducing effort and helps to keep the main thing the main thing.”
To open yourself in this way, you will need personal maturity; it is definitely not for sissies! Your confidence will grow at a phenomenal pace as you learn to tell the truth about successes and failures. Openess will take you to another level in your interpersonal relationships and your assertiveness will grow exponentially.
Shelly, an executive PA, added the fact that she needed some stakeholders to her portfolio to increase her value to the organisation. She chose people of influence and those that were genuinely interested in her as a person to her list and networked and associated with them. Her life was never the same again after that.
She was coached to manage the flow momentum and pacing of these relationships and like tides, handled them and their impact in her life. It was up to her to maintain the health of each relationship. She decided to attract, be creative and work effortlessly, to be happy and empathetic rather than be the one that avoids issues and challenges, becomes difficult, projects a scarcity mentality, is sad and negative and self-centred. In short, she decided to serve others. Within a short space of time, she was promoted to assistant regional sales manager in her company.
Thabo who both benefited from coaching for a successful career, summed it up as follows: “Use and ask for feedback on a regular basis so that there is a healthy and conscious understanding of where one needs to pay particular attention.
“Be healthy and eat like a champion rather than junk food all the time; stay sharp in terms of creative ideas, thinking styles and with trends and news; be in shape overall and live to the full while not being afraid to improve your skills; audit your attitudes and mind frames that others experience everyday; resolve disputes privately and keep lines open and clear.
“Keep your reputation in tact and spotless; become a champion learner and learn from as many people and situations as you can; integrate what you learn and stay focused on clarity of outcomes. The best excuse will never override the impact of bad results in the minds of management and shareholders.”
Questions on the journey to a successful career…
Here are some questions that will prod your thinking on your quest for a successful career as well as a work life balance. Our coaching team would be happy to help you make the shifts necessary to combine a successful career with significance.
- Do you have a life purpose statement of intent that defines what you will focus on and be and become throughout your life?
- What are your main goals for life and business that you are clear about right now?
- What makes your work meaningful? Describe this to yourself
- Have you planned in your diary how you are going to revitalise, renew and review your personal development plan over the next five years or so?
- What are the perceived unmet needs you see in your company, company’s service delivery and customers? How does this gap equate into a business opportunity for you?
- Who are the life team/board members with whom you want to share your journey forward? List them and approach them, set up ground rules and begin to experience a new level of maturity in relations.
- How will you monitor and evaluate your progress in terms of measurable time lines, road signs, and milestones? Identify measure instruments and align your diary accordingly.
- What is your action plan in terms of reputation management in your organisation and within your network/social network? Create the plan and weave it into your diary and self-management.
- Have you identified your top 10 stakeholders that have influence and connections that can help you to become far more visible in the organisation? Plan set times with them.
- Have you identified the hurdles that can trip you up along the career path and discovered how to overcome each one? Have you devised a plan of action for these to become steppingstones rather than hurdles?
- Have you clearly defined where you take yourself and your work for granted? Create a self-development plan to enhance your skills to a higher level of excellence and output.
- Have you positioned yourself in the flow of communication and do you allow the right kind of communication to become part of your future intentions and plans? How are you positioning yourself to be trusted?
- Are you rowing your boat with both arms in balance or are you allowing just one arm to do all the work of rowing your life in circles?
Robert Burns, famous Scottish poet from the 18th century wrote: “O wad some power the giftie gie us to see oursel’s as others see us, it wad from many a blunder free us.”
Have you identified a personal life and business coach that can help on the path to a successful career? We would be happy to advise you further.
Bill Price is the CEO of VIP Leadership Institute and the Global /Africa Institute of Leading. The VIP Leadership Institute offers professional coach training and works in association with the Global Institute of Leading and the Africa Institute of Leading operating in 32 Anglo Africa countries coaching top level leadership in Government, Civil organisations, NGOs and Business.