Monday, January 28, 2013

How to succeed... take the shots!

Photo courtesy of  iStockphoto 
Success
It was the spring of 2007 and I headed off to work to the same hi-tech company that I had successfully worked at for over 12 years. My commute was long but I loved my job as a Sr. Product Manager. I had a great team of direct reports and a number of product lines that I successfully managed. The business was fast-paced, ever changing, challenging and you had to be on top of your game to get results. I loved it and was happy to stay there the rest of my professional career.

A Step Back 
Taking a step back a few years, it had not been an easy journey for me personally. I had gone through two of my boys being diagnosed with type 1 Juvenile diabetes and one with cystic fibrosis. This caused a dramatic change to our family’s lifestyle, especially in the way we managed our three sons. On top of this, my marriage had become strained over a number of years which resulted in divorce and the selling of our dream home.

I accepted all these challenges, although some days it was a huge effort to be on top of my game personally and professionally. But I am not quitter and moved on, planning my life around my boys, work and the building of a new home. I found a property out in the country and built a place that the boys and I could enjoy. The place was completed in the spring of 2007 and I began to finally be settled and happy with moving on. I just wanted to focus 100 percent of my time with my boys and work. I was ready to give it my all, to do whatever it took to continue my move up the corporate ladder.

Failure 
So back to that April rainy day in 2007. That day I was called into my boss's office and when I saw the Sr. HR person also present, I knew this was not going to be good. I expected the worst and that's what happened. They said I was no longer a good fit for the company and that I was going to be terminated immediately. I packed up my office and left gracefully that day. On the long drive home a number of thoughts ran through my mind. “What did I do wrong? Now what? I am going to have to start job searching right away. I’ve just built this new house and how was I going to afford to keep it? I am just going to have to bear down, start networking and use my contacts to help find a new job. It shouldn't be that difficult and I will be on the way to my next career opportunity.” Little did I know how hard it really would be. I spent almost a entire year finding a full-time job. I made a ton of mistakes and looking back, I would have done things a lot differently.

More Failures
The past 5 years haven’t been easy. I’ve had a number of failures personally and professionally, but these experiences have made me a stronger person and prepared me for the future. At times I was ready to quit. The rejections of job applications and interviews took their toll. The people that I thought would help me, didn't. I began to fall into the trap of bitterness and anger. I was mad at the people that fired me, at my ex-wife, at friends and even some of my family. It was slippery slope of self-pity and I was beginning to play the blame game. But because of my upbringing and Christian beliefs I knew this was a narrow path and I had to figure out a way to get back on track. So I began to seek out people to be mentors for me, people who would be willing to invest time into helping me get back on track. Soon I began to figure out a plan on what the next steps in my personal life and professional career should be. I believe that both your personal and professional life have to balanced in order to be successful.


STEPS TO SUCCESS
Today, I have a full-time job and I do some part-time contract work. I spend my evenings and weekends working on my passion/obsession of making it easier for people to reach their highest potential by connecting them to experts who can help them with their career, business, startup or give general self-help. I am expecting great things for Mentorplus.me in 2013. The journey is long, hard and full of challenges but I never give up hope that one day my dream will be fulfilled.

Here are some of the shots I am taking to success...

1. Just Start Taking Shots 
Don't wait for the right people, job, funding or idea to just land in your lap. Start and do your best by taking the shots, fail fast, get feedback, make improvements and take more shots.

2. Tell People Your Story 
Be transparent and share your passion with people. I'm very passionate about making Mentor+me a better way people can help people reach their greatest potential. I have a story to tell and will spend more time meeting with people to share my passion.

3. Build Relationships 
Do this with customers, colleagues and other business relationships. Promptly reply to people who email you. Be open to their advice and requests and above all be appreciative for their time and help. If you make people feel like they’re part of what you’re building, they’ll become your advocates.

4. Sometimes, Rules Are Meant To Be Broken 
Test, stretch and don't give up when you hear "NO". You will get a lot of them if you are constantly pushing for what you think is right. Don't give up, keep fighting and try to get better.

5. Build A Team 
Surround yourself with talented, trustworthy people, and most importantly, don’t feel threatened by the talents of other people... embrace it. Build great relationships with the people you work with. Don’t be afraid to look vulnerable or to lead.

6. Set Short-Term Goals
People like to ask where you like to be 3-5 years from now. For me, the most important results are those that can be measured short-term. I like to think where I would like to be a month to three months from now. Accomplishing short-term measurable goals will only put you in a better position to achieve things in the long term.

7. Stay Fit
 I know everyone gives this advice but for me it has truly been a lifesaver. I always know when it's necessary to start watching what I eat or to take the time to increase my daily exercise habits. Getting outside for a run or walk or participating in a sports activity is just a better way to help you clear your head and possibly get the answers you need to solve a problem. If anything, it's a lot cheaper then eating too much and much better than spending time whining with someone on the phone about your problems. My mom used to put it like this... "Get outside and blow the stink off you."

8. Pay it Forward 
Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in our own little world and all the problems. But each day try to think about ways you can impact a person's life. Pay for their coffee in the drive-thru, make a donation, volunteer, inspire others online or offer to mentor someone. If you need help getting started, download the Pay it Forward App here.

9. Enjoy The Journey 
Just have fun! I love this quote:
"Each goal has a destination and a journey. Many focus on the destination and not the journey and therefore, never reach the destination. Remember: Where you're going and how you get there are two different things. You must drive before you arrive." -- Dave Meyer