Focus on What You Can Control And You’ll Succeed

As members of my career mentoring site know I teach in the MBA program at the University of Denver Daniels College of Business.  As they also know, I’m a big sports fan.  That’s why I was really pleased when the DU Men’s Soccer Coach, Jamie Franks the youngest NCAA D1 head coach, invited me to be on a sideline for the recent DU – St. Louis University success match.  DU won that match and is still undefeated this season.  They are currently ranked number 8 in the country.

Prior to the match, Jamie gave each player a one pager that listed their keys to victory.  There was a section in the middle of the page that caught my attention: “Things Denver Soccer Players Can ALWAYS Control.”  There were three main points on the list: Positioning, Work Rate, Mentality.

As I looked at this list, I realized it applies to anyone who wants to be successful in his or her life and career.  Let me show you what I mean.

Positioning – You need to position yourself for success.  This may mean getting additional education: an MBA or taking continuing education courses in your field.  It can mean being willing to take lateral moves to broaden your experience. I can mean volunteering for task forces with high visibility.  The point is, you want to position yourself as someone who is knowledgeable about your company and industry and someone who is willing to pitch in and do whatever it takes.

Work Rate – “Work smarter, not harder” is a popular phrase these days.  While I think that you shouldn’t waste time on unnecessary tasks, working hard is still an important key to success.  Come early, stay late, volunteer to help others with difficult projects.  In other words, work both smart and hard and you’ll get rewarded.

Mentality – You can’t control everything that happens, but you can control how you react to everything that happens.  Didn’t get the job?  Figure out what you can do better in your next interview.  Didn’t get promoted? Ask why, work to fill the gaps in your resume.  In other words, take personal responsibility for your success.  Learn from your mistakes.  Keep getting better.

Positioning, Work Rate and Mentality work for the DU Soccer team – they haven’t lost this season.  They can work for you too.  They are three things you an control – and if you do control them, you’ll be a winner too.

Your career mentor,



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