I have a friend that has just been promoted at work. He works for a large, multinational company that designs, makes and sells many different kinds of consumer products. The company has been around for over a hundred years, and is pretty much a household name. My friend was just promoted to the regional distribution manager for the entire western United States. He is in charge of making sure that there is a clear connection and communication between the designers, the needs of the marketplace, the manufacturing centers around the world, and the end points of sales in various cities in the United States. He frequently flies all around the world in many capacities, and is well known in the industry as an authority in his field. Needless to say, he makes a ton of money, and gets a great deal of respect from those that he works with and even competitors in his field
It wasn’t always like this. I didn’t know this guy before he became successful, I only met him afterwards. We actually me at a seminar that taught different aspects of communication not taught in any business school. There was a huge range of people at this seminar. One of the great things about being able to meet so many people is that you get so many different ideas and viewpoints on the same things. And it really expands your mind to the idea that there are really many ways to look at one situation. Sometimes I think I learned more that seminar from the other participants than I did from the actual instructors. It wasn’t uncommon for several us to sit up until the early hours of the morning in our hotel lobby just talking different aspects of why we were there and how many different ways there were to accomplish what it is that you want to accomplish something.
This guy mentioned that he used to be unhappy. Although he had a pretty decent job, with decent pay, something was missing. He seemed to be just going along without any real purpose. When he was in college, he didn’t really know what he wanted to do, and he just kind of fell into his job, and slowly moved up the ranks without really paying attention to where he wanted to go.
Then one day he was in a bookstore, and for some reason he ventured into the area of the bookstore that he didn’t usually go into. I don’t know if you’ve ever actually counted the different sections in the bookstore, but there is a lot. He got a book on sailing. He had never sailed before, but for some reason he thought that sailing would be an interesting thing to learn. The book talked about how important it was to be able to read maps, and be able to use a compass, and how to properly steer the boat in the right direction. The book said that one of the biggest dangers was just kind of going in a direction that seemed to be ok, but after you’ve been traveling for a while, you realize that you are in the middle of nowhere. And if you end up in the middle of nowhere without any supplies, it can be pretty dangerous. So the book recommended that you choose a direction, and take your time choosing. And you make sure you know how to get there, and realize that you are likely to get blown off course, so make sure you have extra time planned on your journey to where you are going.
After he studied sailing for a couple of years, he really started to discover his passion. He went and talked to an HR manager at his company, and asked him about a possible career path. The HR manager told him that it was a big company, and there are many opportunities. You can choose whatever path you want, and if you do the proper training and build your skills, there is no reason why you can’t choose your own success. They both discussed what he needed to do in order to succeed, and where he needed to learn more skill and improve on the skills you already have.
That conversation took place about a year before I met him at that seminar, and he told us the story of how he was able to create his own success, simply by taking the time to choose a direction, a destination, and the proper tools that would get him there.