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5 minute read

Achieving Career Excellence: How to Get Started

The journey towards excellence is often a path less travelled, with not many resilient enough to remain on it. The minority who do are the ones who took the time to understand their interests and strengths; and stuck to them with deliberate practise. Here’s what makes them the grittier ones.

Defying all odds

Ever wondered how the chairmen, CEOs, or directors of a company got to where they are? What about those colleagues getting promoted yearly, exuding nothing short of excellence? You might wonder if you could have been in the same position if you possessed their brains, genes, support system or qualifications.

While we’re all gifted with different talents, born with different genes and into different family backgrounds, these are never the sole determiners of one’s success.

There may have been a time when academic performance was a vital determinant of what higher education and career one pursues. Parents with the financial means could afford extra tuition and enrichment activities, providing their children with a head start, while the rest were disadvantaged.

Nonetheless, there were still countless success stories of those who refused to let circumstances define their future, and resiliently pushed through despite limited resources. The way you perceive difficult circumstances will determine the actions you’ll take, and ultimately, your destiny.

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Interests: How it all begins

Contrary to popular beliefs, your interests do matter in the path to excellence – it’s what starts your job search, what you ultimately decide to work on, and even influences how you perform on the job.

Of course, not all of us may have the luxury of choosing from an array of occupations due to circumstances. While we may envy those who love their jobs, we shouldn’t be too quick to assume they have started from a different place.

Here’s the thing: Interests are not discovered through soul-searching, but rather, sparked by interactions you make with the outside world.

Before hard work, comes play – a fundamental that’s often forgotten. Long before committing to the ‘real deal’, you should go about experimenting and getting your hands dirty in everything you are drawn to, since you never know what you may find.

Only through experimenting will you eventually figure out interests that stick, and eliminate the ones that don’t. Once you have decided on your long-term pursuit, don’t be quick to abandon it.

Take a marriage commitment for example. Romantic feelings between the couple may fade over time, but we know that the effort invested by both parties is what keeps the marriage going.

Just like romance, interest must be triggered over and over again; you need to exercise patience and keep showing up to see it develop into something great. Falling in love is easy, but sticking with your passion takes true grit.

To keep the spark alive, always be bold and ask plenty of questions, build meaningful relationships with those who share your interests and goals, and find mentors with a wealth of experience who will lead, challenge and encourage you.

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Practice: A cure to your Achilles’ heel

Practice is an assiduous desire to do better. It resides in the minds of those who want to keep learning and growing. Management consultant expert Peter Drucker suggests that to be effective is to “concentrate on the few major areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results”.

Grit isn’t solely about devoting a large quantity of time to your passion and interests, but rather the quality of time—it’s about focusing your time on the things that bring you closer to your goal.

Remember your first bike ride when you had four wheels, including those pesky training ones you start to despise once you get the hang of riding.

Once the training wheels are off, you’re riding freely. And one fine day on your usual bike ride, to avoid some crazy cat that springs into your lane, you hit the brakes a little too hard and fall off.

What do you do then? Get up and keep riding, or give up cycling altogether for the fear and pain it caused you?

We all start somewhere and from the bottom – the training wheels are the supporting resources that help to guide deliberate practice.

Soon, you’re riding with ease and a certain flow — you feel exhilarated because your hard work has finally paid off, and your work is bringing you to places you never thought you could go.

But even hard-earned success is not free of challenges and setbacks—those things come at you unexpectedly. You break down, your ego gets bruised, and you feel demotivated, but remembering why you got started in the first place gets you back up to keep going.

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Learn to embrace failures and setbacks instead of shunning them. Leverage them to improve your pursuit of success and keep moving forward.

Even Thomas Edison, the famous inventor of the lightbulb, had once been labelled as stupid by teachers and fired from multiple jobs. No one expected to see him go far in life.

Yet he was determined not to let failure and people define his worth. He clearly knew what he wanted and went pursuing it, relentlessly improving failed lightbulb after lightbulb, by figuring out what went wrong and constantly changing his tactics. After what seemed like forever, he succeeded.

Imagine if Edison had given up on his second or third try – the course of history would have been altered forever.

Your interest is what gets you to the starting line, but deliberate practice, resilience and grit are what get you to where you want to be.

This article is contributed by Good Job Creations.

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