To some people there’s no difference between a job and a career. But the smart and observant person knows that jobs just happen to anybody and everybody, while a career takes careful planning, consistency, and hard work -- plus a little of what is known as ‘make-your-own-luck.’
Jobs come in all shapes and sizes, and there’s no shame in considering your work as just a job; something that takes up your time, gives you some purpose, and puts bread on the table. Millions of people all over the world are working jobs and finding enough satisfaction in that to last them a lifetime.
But it’s important to remember that there’s more to life than a job -- any job, done wisely and with a little of that ‘make-your-own-luck,’ can blossom into a richly fulfilling career that will take you places you never dreamed of before. This holds true as well for entrepreneurs; they have to be willing to take chances and to be ready when serendipity throws a piece of ‘luck’ their way. The career entrepreneur knows you don’t really make your own luck -- but you can take advantage of every positive outcome and opportunity that comes your way or that you bring your way.
Maybe we all better stop using the word ‘luck’ when it comes to a successful career. Outside of marrying the boss’s daughter (or son) there’s very little that really falls under the heading of ‘dumb luck.’ A better word is ‘serendipity’ -- the unlooked for and unexpected windfall that comes suddenly into a person’s life when they least expect it. People with successful careers are all pretty much convinced that there’s no such thing as good luck or bad luck -- career enhancement comes from accepting the cards you’re dealt and then working conscientiously to either improve your hand or bluff your way to a higher level of success; and whether your burning the midnight oil to achieve a goal or bluffing your way to the top, the number one priority has always got to be to recognize that little happenstances that fall in your lap from time to time that you can use to your advantage.
Recognizing serendipity when it comes to you is a talent that takes practice and patience. Children stumble across amazing things each day, items that are brand new to their experience. Sometimes they stop to marvel at these things, such as a sunflower bursting with glorious blossom, but mostly they are so caught up in their own little world of concerns and campaigns that they let the serendipitous beauty of the world slip by them with barely a glance or a murmur. How often is that the case with adults as well! Sales opportunities, bargain prices, a career boosting chance -- all these things come our way on a regular basis, but most people just don’t have the wit or observational skills to recognize these golden opportunities and seize them immediately.
“I’ll look into that tomorrow” and “It’s too good to be true” and “That’s probably a waste of time” are all phrases that are deadly to accelerating careers and entrepreneurial success. A career that profits fully from serendipity is one where a sense of wonder and curiosity grow stronger over the years, not weaker. It’s easy to stagnate; just close your eyes and be happy with the status quo. But to invigorate a career, to slingshot it into the stratosphere, you’ve got to keep looking for the main chance and be prepared to play all the angles.
The two best ways to do this are to set bombs and to set hooks.
To plant a bomb that will blow up your career to higher levels of success, you need to stop thinking like you are and start thinking like what you will become. You’re an assistant sales associate now -- very well, start thinking, acting, talking, and believing that you’ve already achieved all the prerequisites to becoming a full sales associate. Dress like it. Treat your clients like you’ve already arrived at the top. Of course, don’t get snooty with your current associates or fawning with those above you. Just blow up your old preconceptions and when the debris settles you brush the dust off your attitudes and build them anew.
As in fishing, planting a serendipity hook means to engage someone important to your career with a statement or question (in person or by email) so that they’ll remember you and start to feel an interest in your progress. Try asking your boss “Did you ever think you’d be the boss here at your age?” Whatever they answer, they’re going to remember who asked it and begin to wonder how much ambition the questioner has. It may even begin to worry them! And that’s a good thing! A boss worried about his or her own position can be manipulated into helping you make a lateral career move, where the serendipity level becomes even higher.