Answers to the top 10 questions about career success

career successAs you may imagine, people ask me questions about the broad topic of success all the time.  Over the past six years I’ve kept a list.  I value those questions, and they deserve answers.  In this article I’ve highlighted 10 of the most popular.  See how you can benefit from my responses.

  1. What exactly is success?

After pondering it for decades, I see success as the achievement of a favorable or desired goal or outcome.  Success is individualized.  What success looks like for you may be different from what it looks like for someone else.  If you aren’t clear about how you’ll know if you succeed in your work life, start thinking about this now.

  1. Does hard work guarantee success?

Believing that hard work alone assures career success is, unfortunately, one of the greatest illusions since civilization began.  Most of us discover that we must work hard to attain our goals, but other factors are significant too.  Desire, focus, perseverance, and trust in ourselves play a role.  Maybe doing the right work counts most.

  1. What is the #1 driver of success?

People who believe with every fiber of their being that they can realize success generally claim it — sooner or later, one way or another.  They develop the ability to manage nagging doubts that creep into their thoughts.  They remain optimistic in the midst of disappointments and setbacks.  They never quit.

  1. What gets in the way of success?

Often we get in our own way.  A bad attitude or poor relationships with others who can influence and support our career trajectory frequently prevent us from achieving the success we want.  While external circumstances certainly can present real or perceived blocks, they usually are temporary.  If you’re serious about succeeding, avoid a victim mentality.

  1. What personal qualities and attitudes pave the way for success?

Resilience is the first quality that comes to mind.  You’ve got to be able to adapt, survive, and flow with the turbulent waters and unexpected detours life presents to all of us.  You need to be persistent, flexible, and curious. Tenacity and consistency are essential. The more I think about it, a cup of gratitude and a dash of hope don’t hurt either.

  1. How can you increase your chances of success?

Identifying the gaps in your skill set and taking steps to close them can increase your chances of success in most situations.  A willingness to overcome obstacles rather than whine about them helps too.  Perhaps the most useful thing you can do is to get out of your comfort zone and offer to dig into projects and tasks nobody else wants to tackle.

  1. What is the biggest mistake people make as they reach for success?

Failing to clarify a macro level vision and make a plan that aligns with your dream or goal is the biggest mistake you can make.  Not knowing what you’re aiming for—and how to get there—resembles taking a road trip without a destination and map.  You arrive someplace, but probably not where you hoped.

  1. How does failure affect long term success?

Successful people usually speak openly about their failures along the way.  Failure is part of the journey for everyone.  It teaches us what to avoid, what to do differently, and what to leverage going forward.  It also controls our ego which, left to run wild, derails even the best of plans.

  1. What are the primary benefits to success?

Success, acquired through ethical, legal, and moral means, allows you to serve more people more effectively.  It provides opportunities for you to care for your family in ways that enhance their quality of life.  It boosts your confidence!

  1. What don’t most people know about success?

Whatever you know about success ultimately means little unless you understand this:  Successful people assume they can succeed.  For them success is a given.  It’s just a matter of how it manifests—and time.  They don’t dwell on the possibility that they won’t accomplish, complete, or attain their desire.

Success, as you define it, can be yours.  But you must want it enough to go after it.  Recall a recent win, large or small.  How do you feel?  Competent?  Animated? All fired up?  Here’s a secret:  That energetic high can attract even more success.  You need to preserve it.  Since you can’t bottle it, I suggest you celebrate each one of your successes as they happen, then raise the bar a little higher. You can do this.

This article originally appeared on Pennlive on Oct 5, 2014

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