Change and Success

I have a great partnership with the folks at the Walk the Talk Company.  They have published three of my books, and will be releasing a fourth, Common Sense Ideas for Building a Dream Team in July.   I am on the WTT email list.  Yesterday they sent a great quote.  It’s a point I often make as a career success coach…

“Coming to terms with the parts of a change that you cannot control is critical to being successful.”

As a career success coach, I often tell my clients that the stuff that happens to you isn’t what’s important.  What is important is what you do with the stuff that happens.  Reacting positively to the negative people and events in your life is an important key to career success.  Accepting the parts of a change that you can’t control is one way to react positively to the events in your life.

It’s time for March Madness.  The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments are getting going.  Have you filled out your bracket?  President Obama even got into the action.  I saw his Final Four picks on television the other day.  As usual, my Penn State Nittany Lions didn’t make the tournament field.  They are in the NIT for the second year in a row.  But that won’t stop me from watching a lot of exciting tournament basketball over the next few weeks.

Billy Donovan is the Head Basketball Coach at the University of Florida. He has been the coach there for 13 years. His teams won the NCAA championship in 2006 and 2007.  They are in the tournament again this year.  Unfortunately for Florida fans, they lost a heartbreaker in double overtime yesterday, so Coach Donovan will have to begin the rebuilding process for next year.

Even though his team lost in the first round this year, Billy Donovan is one of the premier college basketball coaches. However, it wasn’t always so. He had a losing record in his first two seasons at Florida.  He wondered if he made the correct decision in making the change to become the Florida basketball coach.  “I remember my first couple of years here… trying to build something. It was really hard. We had two straight losing seasons. Losing is never fun,” he said. During the tough times, Billy Donovan took motivation where he could get it:

“You know those Successories, little motivational things — inspiration, drive, all those things?  There were like six or eight framed Successories things in my office just for support.”

Successories is a company that sells motivational products – framed posters, cards, awards, plaques, books. You name it, they have it. If you fly, I’m sure you’ve seen their ads in the Sky Mall catalog.

However, this post isn’t about Successories. It’s not even about Billy Donovan. It’s about a very simple but often overlooked common sense point about career success: chose to respond positively to the negative things that can and will happen to you as a result of a change, surround yourself with positive things and people and learn from them.

I know that framed motivational posters may seem a little corny. However, they worked for Billy Donovan. They got him through the tough times he encountered after he made the change to coach the University of Florida Gators. 

These corny motivational posters have worked for me too. I hung a framed quote from Paul Meyer in my office the first day I opened my career success coach business.  It says, “Whatever you can vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe, and enthusiastically act on… must inevitably come to pass.”  This quote has served me well as I built my business and wrote my books. It is my guiding light as I am learning how to use the internet to disseminate my thoughts more widely.

Positive people are even more important than positive things when you’re dealing with difficult change. Billy Donovan says that University of Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley gave him the support he needed during his first two losing seasons that helped him get where he is today. Cathy, my wife, is my biggest supporter and cheerleader. I also have a network of people who support me – some by providing the services I need to run my business, some through their friendship. I wouldn’t have had the success I’ve had over the past 20 years if it weren’t for these people. I’ve learned from all of them.

Here are some ideas that have helped me cope with the crazy changes life has thrown my way:

Be open – to new people, ideas, and perspectives. What you know to be true today may not be true tomorrow. If you’re not paying attention, your truths can drag you down. Keep asking yourself, “Why do I believe this to be true?”  You might be surprised and find that your reasons are no longer valid. Find friend or a career success coach who will challenge your thinking, not just go along with what you say.

Recognize your personal biases. We all have filters. The more you can recognize yours, the easier it will be for you to determine when they are getting in the way of learning something new. You can’t eliminate your biases, but you can compensate for them.

Be humble. You can learn from anyone. There is a lot of wisdom in this world that you will find in some unusual places. The key is to admit to yourself that you don’t have all the answers. The more you understand how much you don’t know, the easier it will be for you to take advantage of the knowledge and wisdom that enters your life every day.

The common sense point in all of this is simple. Successful commit to taking personal responsibility for their career success.  You take personal responsibility when you choose to react positively to changes that you cannot control. Take it from a career success coach — respond positively to the negative people, events and changes in your life.  Surround yourself with positive people and learn from them as you go through life’s changes.  Find a mentor.  Listen to what he or she has to say.  More important, do what he or she suggests.  We all learn best by doing.  So do what your mentor suggests and you’ll better able to deal with change positively – and become the career success you want and deserve to be.

That’s my take on change and the importance of positive people and things.  What’s yours?  Please take a minute and leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us.  As always, thanks for reading.


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