Originally published via LinkedIn Sept 23, 2015
I just Googled “How to Succeed in Business” and got 160,000 results in .51 seconds. That’s impressive. I should be promoted to CEO by the end of the week once I read all these tips.
People love to read tips on how to be better at their jobs, at their relationships, at their life, especially when they are at their most vulnerable. Who doesn’t want to be better?
Sometimes I think people (me) like to read those 18 Things Smart People Do blogs just so we can go down the list and check, check, check off all the things we do proving once and for all how smart we are. Then we share that list on Facebook to let everyone know how smart we are. And then our friends hide us from their timeline because who really freaking cares? Where are the pictures from the debauchery of the weekend, people!? That’s what we want to see.
These types of articles can make us feel justified in our behavior or they can overwhelm with us with the 27 things we need to do by Tuesday just to survive until Friday without getting fired. But I’m here to tell you, all that advice is really just Fluffernutter. Sweet, gooey, delicious fluffy butter, I mean Butternuts, I mean Butterstuff. Just kidding. (PS We’re surely friends if you can guess the movie I am trying to reference here.)
Look at every piece of advice you have ever read or every success you have ever had and I’ll bet you can boil it down to one of two things: Attitude and Timing.
Just over a year ago, I was in a role I enjoyed, on the biggest team in the company, and was not actively looking for a new job. One day as I was connecting to a new colleague on LinkedIN, I noticed another contact had posted a job with a company I never heard (timing!). Glancing at the qualification list, I could see I had about 85% of the asks under my belt. Remembering the statistic that the #LeanIn movement educated me on (men apply for jobs they are 75% qualified for while women typically apply for jobs they are 100% qualified for), I put on my big girl panties and shot an email to my contact just to see what might happen (attitude!). Two days later I had an interview with HR and six weeks later I was the brand new East Regional Marketing Manager for Veeam Software, and, let me tell you, I am crushing it. Who knew, right?
I’m not saying we should stop reading advice blogs. (Then no one would be reading this and that would be awkward for me, but I’m willing to risk it.) If others’ advice inspires us and make us want to conquer the world, that’s their worth and that is valuable. What I’m saying is, we already possess the attitude to be successful. And that some of our success is beyond our control.
Let’s look at the last time you were promoted…..
“My boss left the company and I was promoted into her spot.” Timing. Literally the best timing there is. This happens more than you think in the channel as personnel shift from company to company. Your promotion is not any less deserving. In fact you have to be very quick on your feet to step up to the plate. Taking advantage of these ‘perfect timing’ situations is an excellent way to move up the chain. The next time someone vacates a spot that you would thrive in, don’t sweat over the 10 Signs of Emotionally Intelligent People. Instead raise your hand like that overachieving nerd in 6th grade Algebra. You have the answer. It’s you.
“I spent five years driving to the goal of getting that promotion.” Attitude. You freaking rock. You knew what you wanted and you worked hard to get it. You probably didn’t have time to read the 6 Ways to Make it to the Top. Your attitude brought you there.
“My manager respected me and pushed for my promotion.” Timing and Attitude. This is magical moment not everyone experiences. How many folks do you hear that don’t have a manager that pushed for them? They work their tail off but come promotion time, their manager doesn’t raise their hand at the round table and suggest their guy or gal get the one head count HR will approve for promotion that quarter. Having a great attitude helps tremendously, gets you noticed and respected, but having a manager that will shout out your name is key and you can’t always control that.
How about the last time a relationship ended…..
“He was a complete tool.” Attitude. ‘Thou shalt not date tools’ is like the 11th commandment that didn’t make it down the mountain. If you’re someone that’s compelled to read 17 Signs You Need to Break Up, it’s likely you need to break up. You already know this. But crap like this is hard to admit. I get it.
“We just wanted different things.” Timing. One person wants a commitment and the other still hasn’t figured out how to pull their head out of their ass. Probably because they missed the 8 Clues You’re Not a Grownup blog.
“She turned into a total psychopath once a month.” Timing and Attitude. Good call dipping out. Her schedule was not going to mesh with yours. That’s unfortunate, but it just meant someone with a better attitude at another time would pop into your life. Like the cool chick you’re with now. See?
Or the last time you made a major life change…..
“I knew I wanted something better.” Attitude. You valued yourself. This alone is a huge factor in your success at anything. You don’t need a list of tips to know this.
“I lost my job so I went back to school.” Timing. Losing a job is a miserable experience, even if that job sucked. The loss of income and stability is a challenge on many levels. Investing in yourself is always a good idea. Don’t believe me? This writercame up with 51(!!) reasons why you should go back to school.
“I wasn’t happy.” Timing and Attitude. You knew the path you were on wasn’t the right one for that time in your life so you busted out your machete and carved a new one. Some people can be consumed by unhappiness and can’t find their way out. Your attitude is like a beacon in the night, leading you to a better place.
If you are in a place of uncertainty, at a tipping point in your career or personal life, or on the verge of bona fide meltdown*, don’t reach for the 11 Ways Wise People Make Decisions blog. Take a moment to look to the one person who can really, truly help you: yourself. Calm the noise around you and focus on having a positive, confident attitude. Then trust the timing of your situation. Now jump.
*Never be ashamed to seek professional help if you are in a serious dark place. http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/