Q. I’ve been working in my field for about 10 years and am frustrated at my slow progress. I keep reading in books and magazines about clever people who leapt over obstacles on a fast track to success. Is there a secret to getting to the top quickly?
A. No, the business myth that a journey of a thousand steps starts with one grand, brilliant leap forward is just not true. The truth is that overnight success take years of time and patience.
Of course, the promise of overnight success sells countless books and makes certain speakers very popular on the business lecture circuit.
Anyone who wants to appear magical, superhuman and limitless can skip over the hard work, time-consuming part of their success and brag they zoomed to the top.
The trouble isn’t that people will lie about the reality of how they arrived at their achievement. The trouble is other people want to believe the lie so badly that they accept these fairy tales about success.
What I see in my executive coaching practice is that new clients have often been profoundly demoralized by hearing these false tales. My clients compare themselves with these tall tales and just give up. So let me say this once and very clearly: Success takes hard work, tough tradeoffs and a long time to achieve.
If you really want to achieve a goal at work, you must know what you want (specifically), you must know the price to obtain it, and you must be willing to pay the price.
There is no magical shortcut to success, no matter how many stories you might hear.
After you accept that even talented, smart and inspired human beings have to put their pants on one leg at a time, you can put a realistic map together for your dream.
Start out by using what I call the mosquito strategy for success.
Consider the smallest step you can take and be willing to start there. If you want to write the great American novel, take a writing class or write for your neighborhood newsletter. If you want to be a CEO, volunteer to lead a community group with a cause you support. If you want to start your own business, pay the people who are most respected in your field an hourly fee to give you advice.
None of these mosquito steps will bring you overnight achievement, but they all will lay the groundwork for you to plan an effective campaign to get from where you are to where you want to be.
The ironic secret about success is that people who get realistic, are willing to do the hard work, and think smaller (not grander) are more likely achieve some version of their dreams. .
The last word(s)
Q. Is there one top tip you teach your clients to make them successful at work?
A. Yes, learn to behave well when you feel badly.