There seems to be a market these days in selling success. It seems like many LinkedIn users (and to a lesser extent Facebook users) just cannot stop themselves from repeatedly posting about the “Secrets to Success” or the “X Number of Things Super Successful People do Every Day.” It’s enough to posit the question of whether these people get paid by the number of secrets they publish.
Most of these lists contain pretty much the same repeated information and maybe a couple new items, which usually aren’t so much ‘new’ as just re-hashed information.
Yes, I know I should dress for the job I want. Wow, I never thought to set goals - what a great idea. Oh, I should take action and NOT just sit around. Good thing I found these lists of what to do to succeed. Not sure what I would do without this post telling me how to do this.
Okay, in all seriousness, I should probably give a little background about myself. (If uninterested, skip to the last sentence of this paragraph.) I started working at a local television station right out of college and worked there for close to 15 years directing live newscasts and other productions. I had graduated from college with a degree in communications (I’m not a football player; I just got the same degree) after changing my major a couple times. I went from computer science to political science to public administration, and finally communications with a film and video emphasis. Suffice it to say, my software development career was not in mind straight out of the gate. While working at the television station, I had started getting back into software development and creating some specialized software for use in television. That led to pursuing software development full time and eventually a job in software development. Before I graduated college, I had the usual jobs that everyone does in the summer. I worked in retail and stocking shelves as well as ran registers and worked in walk-in freezers. What I’m saying is that I’ve had a lot of jobs and a couple different careers.
What does this have to do with success? Well nothing really, but I do get asked how I was able to succeed at these different jobs. How was I able to get into a new career and learn enough about them quickly and fit in and get a job done? It really is simple, and it is something that all those lists of ‘secrets to success’ leave out.Stop talking and start listening.
When I write ‘stop talking’ I don’t mean to never talk. I don’t mean to all the sudden become a mute and work heads down on a project all day. (Although that is nice every now and again.)
What I’m saying is that there is so much that you can learn from just making sure that you are listening to what is going on around you. Pay attention to what other people are saying and make sure to take note (mental or otherwise) of terms that are unfamiliar. These terms could be the name of other projects or even business terms that you may not normally think are your business to know. Use these terms to research a little more about what you don’t know and file that fact away. You may never use that fact directly, but you can bet on that fact coming into play when you start to piece items together and see the larger picture of your business, and your place in it.
So why isn’t this ‘secret’ shared more? Well, I think some people love to hear themselves talk. You can’t blame them; people love to make sure that their voice is heard. (‘Letting your voice be heard’ is also a common success secret in several posts.) The thing to remember however is if you are always talking, your few moments of silence are spent thinking about what to say next instead of simply listening. Just once, try listening to what is going on around you. Stop thinking about what you are going to say next and listen to those people talking next to you in the office. There is a lot of info to be gleaned from everything going on around you.
Once you get your listening down, you will realize that there are several facets to your job that you never noticed before. Maybe it is a client, an internal project, or even a new trend that you notice in your workplace. If you are continually listening, you should not have any trouble following prevailing internal trends and making sure that you allow yourself to evolve as your job needs. If you ever find yourself wondering how some people make their career seem so seamless and easy, it is probably because they had their ear to the ground for a long time, and they are simply tuning their work into what they see and feel coming.