5 Ways to Prepare for Success at Every Stage of Your Career

prepare for successWhen I was 18, I got a job as a receptionist for a staffing company answering phones and greeting candidates. I didn’t have a passion for this, but I knew I had to start somewhere. I learned as much as I could about the owners of the company and my supervisor. I was willing to prepare for success.

Soon, I was going above and beyond my role, trying to help clients and colleagues however I could. My manager saw this transformation and convinced the owners I would be successful as a recruiter. I quickly realized even unsuccessful people can look successful.

As a recruiter, I worked long hours voluntarily and kept striving to do better work. By age 21, I was asked to buy the company, but I felt I was too young and unprepared to take on that risk. Meanwhile, the company I worked for was sold to a larger company, and when they took over I became a sales representative. I stayed for two more years and then left to start my own company. Finally, I joined Star Staffing as a regional sales manager. I had to show that I would fit their culture, add to the company and improve revenue. I accomplished this within three months, and then negotiations started with the legal team.

I became an owner by age 25.

From my experience, here are five tips that will help during your journey toward success.

Focus on Solutions

We should’ve learned early on that whining that “my dog ate my homework” doesn’t win you any accolades. Avoid complaining that you can’t get things done or that it’s not your job. If you’re overwhelmed, ask for help. Whining takes energy and focus away from goals. If you’re trying to take your career to new heights, catch yourself every time you feel the urge to complain. Instead, focus on solutions.

Show Up. Be Prepared. Ask Questions

Do your research before the meeting, show up early and come with informed questions. These might seem like no-brainers, but you’d be surprised how many people fail to realize this until it’s too late. Before any meeting, even as a receptionist, I came with my notepad and wrote down every single comment that was made. It may have been a bit much, but I was able to study that notepad and understand better how meetings are run, the order in which the agenda flowed and when people showed up. One of the things that got attention wasn’t just the eagerness of that notepad — it was that I could be useful to others. The second part was putting ideas into action: meetings are part of the job, but what sets you apart is what you do after the meeting.

It’s Lonely at the Top

Yes, I read many Zig Ziglar books and remember his famous quote, “It’s lonely at the top.” I thought it could (and would) be different, but when you make it to the top, you’re held to a higher standard. People begin to see you differently. The subtle rules for befriending your team change because you might face disciplining them one day. You might be perceived as “above” employees, and as a threat to those in similar positions or above you. And it’s not just work: as you climb the ranks, you’ll see friends come and go. Be prepared to discover that some people in your life are a little more shallow, reactive or self-protective than you expected.

Success Breeds Success

Associate yourself with people of a high caliber: it’ll teach you new things that will help you be more successful and allow you to share your successes too. Don’t be afraid to try to befriend people you admire. Reconsider your friendships who have destructive or insecure behaviors, because this can affect you in the long run. Instead, stretch yourself to be amongst peers who can and will grow with you as time goes on.

Stay Humble

Be grateful. No matter how successful you get, don’t let it get to your head. In one month, it could all come crashing down. Success is not a one-person ship crew — a lot of people believed in you to get you to where you are. Say thank you early and often, and count those blessings.

These factors contributed to how I got to where I am today, they helped me prepare for success. Ultimately, they made my success possible.

And here’s what I learned along the way…

We make our own fortune, despite our occasional reliance on timing and “luck.” Because luck happens to disciplined, hard-working people who pay attention and know their own limits (and when to push them). Luck happens to those willing to prepare for success.


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Business Collective.


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