By Ryan Bradshaw
Faculty member, Retail Management at American Public University
Do you ever have those moments when you stop and question your direction in life? Moments where you stop and say, “I wish I had known that so I could have avoided this issue” or “I wish I had known this so I could have taken advantage of this opportunity.”
I’m certain everyone has those moments. Jim Rohn has said that you become like the five people you hang around the most. So, if you hang around with four broke people you’ll more than likely be the fifth. In contrast, if you hang around winners, victory will manifest in your life.
For this reason I like to surround myself with people I want to be like in life, both personally and professionally. Recently, Da Lian Entertainment, a Chinese gaming company paid $2.35 million to have lunch with the Oracle of Omaha himself, Warren Buffett. The company knows that just having proximity to Buffett and his knowledge will be beneficial. This also speaks volumes to the old adage, “knowledge is power.”
Malavath Poorna is the youngest person in the world to climb Mount Everest. It took her months of planning and training. She had to overcome the fear of death as she passed others who had died on the path to the top. She made it to the summit and felt a wonderful sensation of emotional joy. If she had relied on people who have never climbed the mountain for advice the outcome would likely not have been the same.
Friends and relatives are great to bounce ideas off of, but if they have never gone down a path you are undertaking how can they truly advise you? Often, the people closest to you passively hold you back in an effort to protect you from the risk of doing something brave.
You need to seek out people that can offer insights into the future. People who have been where you want to go can tell you the best paths to take and the ones to avoid. A few years ago the executive vice-president of a college I work for got promoted to president of another university. Before he left I invited him out to lunch, primarily to pick his brain about the secrets of success.
What I learned from him and others is that there really is no secret to success. Success comes down to a few simple concepts.
- Always be developing your resume.
- Professional development (including your education) makes you more valuable.
- When you have an opportunity to network, say “yes” every time. You never know who will be in the room that can be a key point of contact in the future.
- Have clear, written, realistic goals and refer to them daily (hang them where you can see them).
- All progress takes place outside of the “comfort zone.” If you feel tension, you are outside the zone and are doing something right.
- Enthusiasm is contagious; people smile when you smile.
So, if you are in a place where you are questioning your future, stop and take a breath. Write down your goals/ideas and then write down what you need to do to make them happen. A goal without a plan is a dream.
[Related: Never Work a Day in Your Life!]
At the end of the day 80 percent of success is showing up and making things happen. What are you going to do with the other 20 percent needed? Surround yourself with supporters who have already gone down the path before you. Get yourself prepared. Find your grit. Face your fears. Look at the mountain and start climbing.
About the Author: Ryan Bradshaw is an ABD doctoral candidate studying student motivation and educational leadership. His dissertation is examining intrinsic and extrinsic motivational differences amongst undergraduate majors.
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