Career Success Advice from a Five Year Old

I find inspiration for this career advice blog everywhere.  I was at Denver international Airport returning from a trip to Boston and New York last Friday night.  I was on the train going from my concourse to the terminal when a young mother got on with her five or six year old son.  She was wearing a cowboy hat.  He was in full cowboy get up – hat, western shirt, jeans, boots and spurs.

I said to the mom, “He looks like he’s ready to rodeo.”  She told me  they were going to the rodeo at the National Western Stock Show the next day.  The little guy knew we were speaking about him.  When he looked at me, I asked if he were excited about the rodeo.  He said “Yeah, I can’t wait until tomorrow.”

The train arrived at the terminal and we went our separate ways.  But I couldn’t help but thinking how there was some career advice in what the little guy said.  If you can’t wait to get to work every day, you’ll be on your way to creating the career success you deserve. 

A lot of people have it the other way around.  They can’t wait to finish work.  I call them the TGIF crowd.  I know a guy who began counting down the days to his retirement from 1,000 – that’s almost three years of waiting to finish work. 

If you do what you love, really love, you’re more likely to be the kind of person who can’t wait to get to work every day.  I often speak about this to my career success coach clients and in my career advice writings. 

Tweet 6 in my latest career advice book Success Tweets says, “Make sure that your personal mission and vision are what you want – not what someone else wants for you.”  Tweet 7 says, “Figure out what you really want to do.  Work you love will make it easier to create the life and career success you want and deserve.”

These two tweets are really important career advice.  They will help you create your career success.  Over the years, I have had way too many career success coach clients who felt as if they were trapped in careers that they didn’t really want nor choose.  That’s not a good way to build career success

If you want to become a career success, you have to be excited about going to work every day – just like the little boy who was excited about going to the rodeo.  To do this, you have to love what you do.  You have to be passionate about what you do.  This love and passion has to come from deep inside you.

This means that you need to choose the career you love – not what others want you to love.  Parents, friends and peers mean well when they try to steer you into a career they think is right for you.  But, parents, friends and peers are not you.  Only you know what’s best for you and your life and career success.

Many people apply to medical or law school because their parents want them to become a doctor or a lawyer.  However, after a year or two of school —  or worse yet — a year or two of practice as a doctor or a lawyer, some of these people figure out that they aren’t living their life purpose, they’re living the life their parents want for them.  And, they have a mountain of student loan debt. 

Many of these folks become angry and bitter.  They spend a lifetime going through the motions, never really developing that sense of happiness and career success that comes from doing what they love and what they choose to do. 

We all have to find our passion in life and pursue it.  I had a double major at Penn State, broadcast journalism and human development.  My senior year I had an internship at a television station in Scranton PA.  I did well in the internship.  As luck would have it, one of the reporters announced his plans to leave the station right about the time I was to graduate.  The News Director liked me and offered me a reporter job.  I was flattered and really tempted to take it.   This was a rare opportunity.  In those days, most people coming out of college had to spend a few years in radio news prior to moving to TV.  Yet, I was lucky enough to receive an offer at a TV station right out of school.

However, there was one small problem.  I had already committed to doing a year of service as a VISTA Volunteer.  I could have backed out of that commitment, but my personal ethics wouldn’t let me do so.  I turned down the TV news job.  The News Director and my Journalism advisor at Penn State did their best to convince me that this was a special opportunity and that there would be no guarantee that I would be able to secure a similar offer one year later.  They had my best interests in mind.  They wanted me to get off to a running start in the world of TV news. 

I chose to stick to my commitment of a year of service.  And I’m glad I did.  That year of service opened my eyes to possibilities for career success that I didn’t know existed.  After my year of service, I took a job that helped me identify my purpose in life – helping others create the life and career success they want and deserve. 

To paraphrase Tweet 6, I made sure that my personal mission and vision were what I wanted – not what my professor, boss, and parents for that matter – wanted for me.

These people where all well meaning.  My professor saw some promise in me as a journalist.  He liked my writing style.  He thought I would be a great TV news writer.  Besides that, he saw his students’ work in the broadcast journalism field as part of his legacy.  The News Director saw an opportunity to fill a vacancy with a proven commodity.  My parents thought a “real job”, as opposed to a year of service, was better for me. 

However, I had to decide.  And, in the end I made the correct decision for myself and my career success.  This all happened in 1972.  Today, almost 40 years later, I am like the little boy on the train at the airport.  I can’t wait to start work every day.  I love what I do.  This love has helped me become a career success.

The common sense career success coach point here is simple.  Successful people love what they do.  They can’t wait to get to work every day.  They are like this because they look deep inside themselves to discover their purpose and direction in life.  They listen to, even solicit, advice from people they respect and trust.  But when it comes to choosing their life’s work, they follow the advice in Tweets 6 and 7 in Success Tweets: “Make sure that your personal mission and vision are what you want – not what someone else wants for you;” and “Figure out what you really want to do.  Work you love will make it easier to create the life and career success you want and deserve.”

It’s your life and your career.  You have to live it.  That’s why you have to choose the career that’s right for you personally – not what other people think is right for you.  Other people, particularly those close to you, have your best interests at heart.  That’s why you should listen to what they have to say; but you need to make the final decision on your life’s work by yourself.  That’s the first step in taking personal responsibility for your life and career success, and in being fulfilled by your work.

That’s the career advice I have based on my interaction with a little boy who was excited about going to a rodeo.  What do you think?  Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading this career success blog.


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