I get asked for career advice a lot, and while most of the time I don’t think I can teach anyone anything – I’m still trying to work this life-stuff out myself – there are a couple of observations I’ve made in my 20+ year career that are consistent and (I believe) debilitating if you really want to be successful.
First and foremost – Be A Person Of Your Word! And I really mean this.
Your word is everything. It defines you and your reputation in everything you do. If you are consistently unreliable, forgetful or uninterested, then it doesn’t matter how much time people spend with you – helping you, guiding you or supporting you to ensure you are successful – you cannot truly succeed in the long run if you don’t do this.
Because people can’t rely on you.
Because people can’t trust you.
Because people lose faith in you.
You see, your lack of commitment to your commitments sends a message – you don’t care about other people and have no respect for their time or the effort they have spent with/on you.
Four basic examples of failing with your word I see often in business…
1. Always registering for events and never turning up. Please remember there’s an event organiser praying that enough people are in the room so she/he doesn’t look like a failure. Every time you don’t show up, you let someone down
2. You got offered something better so you decide to blow off your original commitment. Thanks very much. This stuff is always remembered
3. You ask everyone to support your personal brand but don’t return the favour. That is not being part of the Giving Economy, it’s you thinking of yourself. Don’t be an empty rising star – they always, always eventually fall
4. Your pal is out of work and you’ve promised to put them in touch with a connection at the company they desperately want to work for, but you got too busy and forgot. Please help people looking for work in any way you can and don’t expect anything in return. When you face this time (and you will face this time) it will be remembered and you will be supported
I could go on.
I encourage you to give people your word and stick to any promise made, no matter what! However, if you know you can’t commit, don’t give them your word in the first place – even if it makes you uncomfortable. It really is better for everyone concerned if you say no upfront rather than disappoint later – because it’s a disappointment that lingers and is remembered.
Being known as a person of your word is how you build a meaningful network that supports you, wherever you go in your life. It’s why people start to trust you, and it will serve you at every stage of your career. It’s the core of being regarded as a person with integrity.
I am very careful where I commit my time. I have to be, because life is busy, not just with work and family obligations, but the whole mish-mash that is life. That means any additional commitments I make have to be great investments that lead towards the ‘greater goal.’ Naturally I do fun stuff too, but I am always deeply thoughtful before committing. If I can’t commit, I don’t and I certainly never make false promises that I will. Being honest is respected by people.
So when I’m in, I’m really in all the way. I don’t sit in the back of the room, hoping to get noticed, demanding help or attention. I’m there, involved from the start, giving first in whatever way I can. I believe this is always the place to start – to give first – but it’s not just at the start, it needs to be an always mindset. Be a giver and you will stand out and be more successful.
As an example, I joined the Asia Professional Speakers Singapore Association a couple of years ago to learn more about professional speaking – which supports my career ambition. I had no idea how great this group would be for me, but from the first Annual Convention I was hooked. It was like magic for me, because I was in a room with some of the world’s best speakers freely giving their knowledge and experience to people like me. I thought it was beautiful. I felt like I was home. An Association of givers. Totally me.
In this case I took action. I joined the Association in June, and in July I put my hand up to serve on the executive committee. This put me into the heart of the Association, and that meant I was able to quickly get to know everyone and build amazing relationships from the get-go. I was determined to give to the group in whatever way I could so we all benefited, and ultimately, it’s meant I’ve been able to build relationships with fabulous people who offer me so much in return. I gave but I continue to receive so much more.
I truly believe in service and giving as a fundamental driver for career growth. Deep success follows if you are genuine in this approach.
In this case, I took action, but I always take action, because I’ve always been passionate too. I don’t know why I am so passionate, but you know what, I don’t see the point in not being passionate. Life is too grand to sit in the background. Maybe that’s another blog in itself?
So be a person of your word and take action with an attitude of giving and service. That’s how you can be successful, because it’s ultimately about giving to others before you can be truly successful anyway.
I definitely believe that these two qualities are fundamental requirements for the future of work. It’s not about you, it’s about the collective whole succeeding, so get stuck in and enjoy a fabulous career.
Just a few thoughts I was inspired to share, for no particular reason today, just an accumulation of experiences and observations over many years. I witness these behaviours often – or lack of – so I thought it was important to write about it. What do you think is the cornerstone of success?
Businessman superhero photo courtesy of Shutterstock
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