It is possible for everyone to make a success of his or her career. The weal and woe of Solidarity’s more than 180 000 members gave FLIP BUYS an opportunity to thoroughly study the requirements for success in one’s career. For years he has been looking closely at the reasons why some people reach the top while others don’t. He has summed up his conclusions in eight golden rules for making a success of your career.
- Fulfil your calling
For many people their career never seems to take off properly because they are not fulfilling their calling; they are just working. As a Christian I know that every person has a calling in life, and one has to find out what it is as soon as possible.
A person who does not know his or her calling simply toils away just to live, but does not live to work and experience the joy of life. This is why it is important for young people not to choose a field of study or a job simply for the money. The “right” occupation for the wrong person results in failure. You will earn more money in the field where your are the best and to which you feel you are called. Money is the reward for good service delivery. Do not aim at the money, rather aim at making a difference. If you can do this, you will be amply rewarded – also financially. Fulfil your calling, not someone else’s!
- Further study gives the best return on an investment
People want to know what is the best investment, like property or shares. The correct answer is that the best return on investment very definitely is obtained from investing in your own training. A person who invests money and time in his own training will be compensated over and over again in financial terms and quality of life during his working life. Training requires money and lots of sacrifices, but people without training often do not have money to buy food and they have to work much harder and make more sacrifices without any prospects for a better life. They have to work for their money as long as they live and never earn enough so their money can work for them.
There is a close link between your studies and your calling. This is why you have to equip yourself for your entire calling, and not only for your occupation. In practice, this means that you should not be doing only the minimum to qualify yourself. Nobody wants to be operated on by a doctor who obtained only 50%. Begin by equipping yourself with the best training available, perform as best you can in your training, but also work on a positive approach to life, a constructive value system and people and life skills. A well-rounded person with good training is able to persevere even in adverse circumstances, and is guaranteed ultimate success.
Also, do not always go for the “easier” fields of study; remember – the tougher the study, the higher the ultimate yield. Create your future by learning, it does not come automatically. Resounding success always is preceded by quiet preparation. Remember, there are no good or bad fields of study. Some may be good for other people but bad for you, or the other way round. The best gardener with a passion for gardens will enjoy his work more, develop a country-wide garden business and make much more money than a medical specialist who hates his work and faints when he sees blood! Remember, you are never too old to learn.
- Work on your strong points
There is a very simple rule for success: determine what you are good at, and become the best in it. This means you should work on your strong points, rather than trying all the time to improve your weak points. It is no use for a brilliant rugby player to try to improve his poor cricket all the time. He simply will lose his place in the Springbok team and will also not make it to the national cricket team. Nobody is brilliant in all fields.
Some people quickly determine what their strong points are, improve those points by working hard, exercising and studying, and in this way they reach the top. Others may take years to discover their strong and weak points and do not focus on aspects they are not good at. Their career is like an aircraft that moves back and forth on the runway but never takes to the air.
This does not mean you should be handicapped by your weak points. For example, surround yourself with people who complement your weak points with their strong points. Remember that Aaron had to speak on behalf of Moses.
- Follow your passion
On average, one works for about 40 years and then you have to live off the fruits of your career. This is a very long time doing something you are not absolutely crazy about. If you do not know what your passion in life is, there are two things you can do to find out: go for proper vocational guidance testing, or consider what you love doing in your spare time. The most successful people are those who are getting paid to do what they love doing anyway! Passion is the petrol in the tank that will drive you to the top.
- Get to know yourself
We tend to see other people’s shortcomings or good characteristics more easily than our own. Maturity goes hand in hand with self-knowledge. A person who knows himself or herself is a person who knows what his or her aptitude, interests and strong points are and what are not. They accept themselves, love themselves (but are not in love with themselves!) and are comfortable in their own skins.
Many people fail in their careers in spite of a high intelligence, good qualifications, hard work and strong motivation. They are employed thanks to their skills but are later dismissed because of their emotional immaturity or flaws in their character. This is why experienced personnel managers say a “good” vacancy is better than a bad appointment!
It is surprising that some people in their midlife are still looking around trying to find the right job. The reason usually is that they do not know themselves. When a good medical specialist who cannot manage is appointed as head of a hospital, the hospital gets a poor manager and the medical profession loses a good specialist. This is a lose-lose situation.
- Lifelong learning
In today’s rapidly changing world, knowledge and experience quickly become obsolete. This is why people who have been successful for years cannot understand why all of a sudden they begin to struggle in their work. Stagnation means death in the career pot.
In practice, this means that a qualification is indeed a good and essential starting point, but it is not a guaranteed winning post. The world is not standing still, neither can you. Successful companies and people also realise this, and this is why life-long learning today is the “in thing”. Do not groan and think you will have to study until late at night all your life for more degrees. At university or college you learn how to learn. Formal studies are good and always will be good, but you can go a long way with courses, conferences, books or simply an attitude of learning. Indeed, the “university of life” is indispensable for success. And remember, keep your eyes and ears open; general knowledge isn’t all that general!
- Change of work and occupation
In the old days one used to study for a work while you were young, and then you carried on doing the same work for the same employer until retirement. Then things changed, with people changing jobs on average six times during the course of their career. But the world is changing ever more rapidly, and many people today not only change jobs six times but they also change their occupation three times! This means you cannot any longer afford to learn for a job, you have to learn to learn. You don’t have to fear the future, just keep your options and your (learning) eyes and ears open.
- Work on your work
Only the best companies survive in today’s competitive world. No company can afford complacency, and this goes for employees as well. Therefore – work on your work, don’t just go to work every day and work your fingers to the bone. The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth. Try not to work harder, work smarter.
Most important of all: enjoy your work, and keep learning!