In the ‘60s, the record high jump in track and field was not that high. Then one day, a high-school kid named Richard Fosbury had a strange idea: Jump backward – headfirst. In 1968, the Fosbury Flop shattered the Olympic record and won gold, all because he approached the problem from a different point of view.
Ever think about approaching your career in the same way? The truth is, very few people reach their potential. They let their career run itself, rather than taking control. They do things by watching and mimicking others. This lack of initiative dilutes individuality and destroys potential.
Look over the horizon. What do you expect to be doing in a few years? What are you doing right now to fulfill that dream? You must break from convention if you want to break from the pack. Here’s how:
1. Have a healthy dislike for mediocrity. Most opportunities at work are pitiful. If they aren’t there, go out and find them. Find someone that will let you do your best work, whether they have any money or not. Control is better than cash.
2. Don’t be patient. If you think part of paying your dues means being patient, someone else will own your success. They aren’t waiting for serendipity. They earn success through excellent work. Prove to your employer that you deserve bigger opportunities by going above and beyond your current work. Then, ask for the plumb job. Don’t be surprised when you get it.
3. Steal. Picasso said that great artists steal. Study what’s being done by the masters in your field. Look at it from every angle. Mimic, and then make something new. Steal from those who are changing the world and you will do the same.
4. Clear the bar. Raise the bar. It’s tempting to become satisfied when your work receives accolades. Satisfaction is a sure way to underachieve. Whatever you do, never love your craft. That’s for everyone else to do. When you complete a job, consider it dead. Move on. Got to work to do something that makes it pale by comparison.
5. Help others become better than you. Give away your secrets. Show everyone your tricks. Never stop giving. Nothing teaches like teaching. And nothing lets you grow like helping others grow.
You have two possible career paths: happiness or misery. Too many wake up on the wrong path when it’s too late to get back on the right one. If you start on the right track, all of your energy can be used to realize your real potential.