The Secret to Success

What’s the secret to success? Whether you want to succeed in a career or business, here’s how to organize yourself for success.  

When a young man named Jim* graduated from college a few years ago, he spent a couple of months searching for a job. He read books and articles about careers, resume writing, applying for and interviewing for jobs. He wrote and fine-tuned his resume, then fine-tuned it again before he started contacting recruiting agencies and responding to employment ads.

His efforts got him several job interviews, and he researched each company carefully before meeting with their recruiters. Several companies asked him to come back for second interviews, which he did. Then, the phone rang one day and he got his first job offer. The salary was in the range he had hoped for, but he turned it down.

His parents, and some of his classmates, who couldn’t even get interviews in the same field, were puzzled. When questioned about it, the young man said, “The job wasn’t really what I’m looking for.”

Then a week later he got a second job offer. He turned that down, too. A few days after he turned down that job, he got a third offer. It was for less money, but he jumped at it.

“What’s going on?” his father asked. “Why are you so happy about this job when the other two you turned down would have paid more?”

“Getting the highest possible salary right now isn’t what’s most important to me,” Jim explained. “What is important is positioning myself for long-term success. The first two job offers were for dead-end jobs. The best I could have done in either company would be to rise a level or two in the organization. That isn’t what I want. The job I took will give me the training and the contacts I need to really get ahead in my career if I work hard.”

Jim’s strategy paid off. He stayed with the first company for two years, and got a couple of raises and a promotion while he was there. He used that experience to position himself for a job with a company he had his sights set on all along. He’s done well with that company too, and just recently got a nice five-figure salary increase. When I last spoke to him, he was leaving his new Lincoln in his father’s driveway for a couple weeks while he vacationed in Europe.

What was the secret to Jim’s success? Was he any brighter than his classmates? Not really. Jim wasn’t a straight-A student and didn’t go to an Ivy League school. Neither does he have a degree in some in-demand high-tech field. The only real difference between Jim and his classmates is that Jim took a more organized approach to starting and advancing his career. He looked at where he wanted to be 10 years in the future, and then mapped out a path to reach that goal. To achieve success, he simply followed the path he drew.

No matter what stage of life you are in, you can organize yourself for success just like Jim has done. Whether you are just starting out or have a few years of experience under your belt you can get ahead. All it takes is to set your long term goals and then map out your own path for achieving them. And, if you own a business or you are thinking about starting one, you’ll find the very same strategies work, too.

*Note: Jim is a real person. We’ve omitted his full name to preserve his privacy.

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