10 Lessons for Career Success

At Highly Relevant, we recently started holding internal monthly training sessions because we want to promote personal development and growth. Every single person on our team has knowledge that other people on the team don’t have, and with this new training initiative, we’re hoping to tap into the knowledge base of each individual on our team.

We’re planning to do one training per month, and we’ll post the individual training documents on the Highly Relevant blog to share with all of our readers.

I gave the first training last Friday; my topic was “10 Lessons for Career Success.” (I realize it’s not the most creative and/or compelling name for a training session, but hopefully the content makes up for it!) When I was just getting started in my career, I didn’t have any mentors who I felt like I could go to for some guidance—and therefore, in my early- to mid-20s, I felt pretty lost and unsatisfied with my career. Through my experiences as an entrepreneur—as well as mass consumption of books—I learned a ton, and I wanted to share some of the most important lessons with my team.

You can check out the presentation above, but I also wanted to expand on each of the 10 lessons a little more here:

Lesson 1:How Bad Do You Want It?

To have a successful career, you have to understand that you have to put in the work. There are NO shortcuts, no “get rich quick” schemes. Understand that most people like the idea of being successful—but the majority of them don’t really want it so badly that they are willing to sacrifice partying, watching TV, sleeping, hanging out, etc.

It doesn’t just take weeks or months of hard work to be successful—it takes years of hard work. Are you willing to put in a decade of relentless, hard work to be successful? If not, then you must not want it that badly.

Lesson 2: Determine WHY You Want to Be Successful

By determining WHY you want to be successful, you’ll be more willing to make sacrifices and put in the time and effort it takes to reach the level of success you want to be at. You need to know WHY you want to be successful because the path to success gets bumpy, and your WHY will keep you motivated through those turbulent times.

One way to determine your true WHY is to keep on digging deeper and asking yourself “Why?” each time you think of a reason for why you want to be successful. For instance:

“I want to be successful because I want to be rich.”
Well, why do you want to be rich?
“I want to be rich because I don’t want to work my whole life.”
Why don’t you want to work your whole life?
“I don’t want to work my whole life because I want to take care of my family and help other people.”
Why do you want to take care of your family and help other people?
“I want to take care of my family and help other people because I want to make a difference and leave behind a legacy.”

This last statement would be your true WHY. Whenever times get tough on your path to success, you can remind yourself that you’re going to persevere and push on because you want to make a difference with your life and create a legacy.

Lesson 3: Create a Personal Philosophy.

In business, organizations often create a set of values that help define the company’s culture. Similarly, a Personal Philosophy is your own set of guidelines, beliefs, and behaviors that help you make decisions. Your Personal Philosophy is your own personal “mission statement” or credo, and it will act as a “compass” for you—and whenever you backslide, you can come back to your philosophy to get you back on track.

To learn more about how you can develop your own Personal Philosophy, I recommend reading Win Forever by Pete Carroll and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.

Lesson 4: Write a Current Reality Statement.

You can take action on this lesson today—even right now. A Current Reality Statement is a written statement that describes your life, career, situation, etc. You want to write a statement like this because it gives you a starting point, and as time goes by, you can review past Current Reality Statements to see the progress that you’ve made in your career and life.

Also, your Current Reality Statement will help you become aware and conscious of your current status in your life. Perhaps you’ve been going through the motions—but now you’re aware. And by being aware, you can make changes.

I recommend that you write a Current Reality Statement every year so that you are always conscious of where you are and also to see how much you’ve progressed.

Lesson 5: Create a Game Plan.

Now that you know where you’re at currently, it’s time to devise a game plan for where you want to go in your career. Your game plan can include your goals, habits you want to establish, a “Bucket List,” an accountability log, etc. Something that I learned from one of my favorite authors, Robin Sharma, is the idea of setting your “Big Five” goals for the year.

So what are your goals for the year? What are your goals for the month? What are your goals for the week? Take some time and organize all of these items in a document that you can review consistently. Put together a plan to review your Game Plan at least once a week.

Lesson 6: Conduct Personal Reviews.

Conduct personal reviews on a consistent basis—weekly reviews, monthly reviews, and annual reviews. In these reviews, you can assess where you’re at and if you’re making progress on the goals and objectives you set for yourself. These personal reviews allow you to be very conscious and deliberate with your career and life.

Lesson 7: Establish Good Habits.

Most of you know that you should establish good habits, so I won’t expand too much on this one. One thing that I do recommend you doing though is to identify the potential behaviors that would make the most positive impact on your career and life if you were to establish them as habits. Then create a plan for implementing them into your life.

Lesson 8: Read.

Getting into the habit of reading is one of the best things that I ever did for my career (and life). There is so much information out there. Anything that you want to do has most likely been done by someone already—and there’s probably a book about what you’re trying to do, too. Read the books!

Start small. Ten pages a day of a good book—you can make the time to squeeze in 10 pages a day—and watch your career and life change as you continue with this habit.

Lesson 9: Take Action.

But don’t just read and not doing anything about what you’ve read. You have to take action on the things you learn. I recommend that you take notes on everything you read and track them somewhere. You may not remember all of the valuable ideas and concepts you learn from your reading, but if you have notes on these books, then you can always refer back to them.

When you finish taking your notes, create action items and incorporate them into your master game plan.

Lesson 10: Be Like Lebron and “Warm Up” Every Morning.

Could you imagine Lebron James showing up to the arena for his 7:30 PM game at 7:25 PM and then playing without warming up? Well, this is essentially what you do if your work day starts at 9 AM and you show up at your office at 8:55 PM with zero preparation.

Who do you think will have a more successful career—the person who spends an hour in the morning preparing him/herself to have a successful day or the person who just shows up at the office to start the work day after sleeping in late and is all frazzled from fighting traffic?

Set yourself apart from everyone else. Do the things that unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Get ready for your day by “warming up” and be completely prepared to crush it. Read, journal, work out, eat a healthy breakfast, review your goals, listen to a motivational podcast, plan your To-Do’s for the day, etc. These are things that you can do in the morning to prepare.

Justin Hong is the Managing Partner at Highly Relevant and is an avid fan/consumer/participant of books (business, leadership, personal development), the Dallas Mavericks, food (all kinds… literally), and ridiculous discussions that are probably not appropriate for this blog.

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