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  • Emily Witter

How to be successful



So you want to be successful – who doesn’t? It’s hard right? Competition is tough.

Well, Yes and No.

Most people strive for success but never seem to feel that they have ‘made it’.

You are unlikely to travel a straight line in its direction and just as you get there you see a new challenge - there is always somewhere else to go to, it is what drives us.

As Zig Ziglar so clearly put it

“Success is not a destination, it’s a journey.”

But how do you get to FEEL success?

1. Define what success will look like for you:

Your plan for success should be unique to you. Only when you understand what excites and drives you will you know where you want to set your sights. If you strive for what really matters to you then that passion will turbo charge your journey to success. Decide what you most want to achieve and limit this to 3 or 4 things, I’d recommend a mix of career aims and life ambitions. Then ask yourself why these successes are important to me? If you can’t answer part 2 then perhaps you have to rethink the first part. Let’s say one of these is you want to be Global Head of X by 35. Is that for the status, the adrenaline, or does this bank run in your veins? If you want to learn to fly is that because you love the sense of freedom, are you fascinated by airplanes, or maybe want to conquer your fear of flying.

2. Walk away!

Give yourself some space – a day or 2 perhaps. Then look at your answer to #1. Do those 4 things still feel important to you? Does your heart race a bit? Is it still worth your time and effort? Do you still own them? Then you are more likely to succeed.

3. Decide how to measure it:

‘Global Head by 35’ - you either are or are not, but has it delivered for you? What if the title is different or you are 36? Do you see that as a success? Clarify what is the intrinsic value you are measuring that matters to you and then make sure that all of your ambitions are complementary – having time to enjoy flying and being Global Head may present a tension.

4. Break up the journey:

How are you going to get there? You need to start now. What do you need to do to get noticed to get to the next step – Senior Vice President? You might well expect in the natural course to be promoted, but not necessarily to be noticed as the star of the future, you will have to work at that.

5. Enjoy the journey to your successes:

You have chosen some long term ambitions that you are committed to achieve. You probably will have many interruptions and falter along the way. A significant predictor of success is passion and you will need persistence to deal with the setbacks, what psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth calls ‘Grit’. And you still need to live a life you enjoy today.

6. Revisit often:

Every 6 months have a personal review - how well are you doing on all 4 of your ambitions? Maybe you are on track for Global Head but not so good on learning to fly – just not finding the time. So what do you need to do about that NOW – not later. David Brooks in his Ted Talk ‘Should You Live for Your Resume or Eulogy’ challenges us to think what has greater worth, a life recognized for its powerful CV or what people will remember you for in a eulogy?

As the author of your own ambition your journey will be unique. But that does not mean you have to travel that journey on your own. Ever wondered what it would be like to have a coach available whenever you needed them? Someone who can help you think through a knotty problem without the need to sign up for regular sessions?

​Now you can, with our Smart Mirror Coaching service. We will help you close the gap between where you are and where you want to be. It is both 'in the moment' and for the future, as it helps solve you’re here-and-now challenges whilst developing your capabilities and supporting your on-going professional development.


Nicky Carew is an executive coach and leadership development consultant. Contact her nicky@thechangemakergroup.com

#coaching