December 9, 2005
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There are many factors that can limit the success of
your high-tech career. You can lack basic skills or opportunities to use
the skills you have. You can live in an economically depressed area. You
might even have personal health issues. Even these issues, though, are nothing
compared to the 3 most insidious limits we place upon our own careers. As
with many parts of our lives, our biggest obstacles are often those we create
Lack of Faith
The single most important factor in career success is a natural faith
in our own abilities. I am not talking about blatant arrogance or a refusal
to recognize your own limitations, but something much more basic. If you
do not have a basic belief that you can overcome the day-to-day challenges
of your career, you put a tremendous limit on your chance for success.
You need to believe that you can learn new skills. You need to believe
that you can support yourself. You must believe that you can continue
to grow in both your career and your life regardless of what obstacles
might be placed in your path.
How do you develop this confidence in yourself, now and in the future?
First, you seek out opportunities to find those small, daily successes
that sustain us as we build a life. You need to recognize these successes
and celebrate them. Each new success gives us the confidence to stretch
ourselves a little bit farther, to try new things, to take a bit more
risk. This then leads to more successes, and a few failures, but still
building your confidence step by step.
If you take a different tack, constantly berating yourself for small failures,
limiting your risks and ignoring your small successes you are virtually
guaranteeing that you will find success elusive, if not impossible..
Lack of thought
You can also limit your career through a lack of thought. If you find
yourself only following orders, performing tasks by rote or doing only
what needs to be done, you are limiting yourself to a minor role in your
company and your career. If you aren’t thinking every single day
about something, job-related or not, you need to start. If your job isn’t
challenging, then you need to challenge yourself. Look for new ideas,
new methods, new books to aid and expand your thinking. You will also
want to find a new job. You will never do your best work or explore all
your capabilities if you are not engaged by your work. You will remain
stuck in the same rut from one day to the next.
Set aside some time each day to simply think. Think about your work, your
goals, your life. Think about new careers, new ideas, new people, new
businesses, new worlds. It matters very little what you think about. What
matters more is the fact that you take the time to think at all.
Lack of Action
Finally, it is almost impossible to achieve great success in your career
if you don’t assume a “bias for action” at every possible
opportunity. Taking action forces us to take risks and encounter new hardware,
new software, and new ideas. Within reason, your first response when presented
with a new opportunity should always be “Yes!” You may decide,
on further investigation that the opportunity is not suited to your desires
or needs, but you should never simply dismiss them without some thought.
You need to be as open as possible to every opportunity that presents
What 3 projects have been brought to your attention in the last 3 months?
Did you immediately dive in and investigate each opportunity as it arrived
or did you simply tell yourself that you weren’t qualified/interested/able?
Think about the missed opportunities you have recently experienced. How
could you better take action in the future?
Don’t limit your career or your life by ignoring these 3 important,
limiting factors. Have faith in yourself, take the time to think about
every aspect of your life and career and take immediate, direct action
whenever possible to make your goals reality. While this might not guarantee
you a great career, it will certainly improve the odds of achieving a
better high-tech career.