Talent and Success
Our culture loves an underdog. We especially love an underdog who soars to excellence on innate talent alone—the band who makes it big with no formal training; the self-taught mathematician who solves complex problems without the training of an advanced math course. Of course these stories astound and inspire us. It’s amazing what thoroughly talented people can achieve.
But does that mean that our own talent is fixed, our potential for success predetermined by an inherent and unchanging allotment of skill?
Thankfully, no. Skill grows with experience. And with practice and mentoring, anyone can grow in their discipline of interest.
In a recent piece for South Carolina Manufacturing, Paul Kumler describes his experience as an average Joe and shares his strategy for growing in his career, one that eventually led him to found KTM Solutions.
Below is his advice for the average people that most of us are.
Be the best you can be
You might not be starting out with the most talent in the company, or the most talent in your department. But you can perform your work to the best of your ability and keep learning so that your own ability grows. Further, small steps can show how serious you are about performing well at work. As simple advice as it is to be punctual (or, even better, early) and to “dress for the job you want,” those things can help you stand out.
Take care of yourself and the company
An employee who only looks out for themselves might not be trustworthy, and an employee who only looks out for the company will likely become unhappy. Yes, stay engaged at work while you’re there. But when the work day is over, it’s just as important to disengage from work and be present in the other parts of your life. You’ll likely perform better in each part of your life if you’re able to disengage from work at the end of the day.
Look for work you enjoy
Working in a career that brings you personal satisfaction is a true gift. When you love what you do, work itself can become fun. Still, even the most enjoyable of roles will inevitably require tasks that feel boring or unpleasant. Here is Paul’s advice: “If you are in a position that brings more satisfaction than disappointment, you should consider yourself blessed. Allow that passion to drive your performance, even when tasked with work that isn’t as exciting or glamorous to you.”
Don’t worry about money
This advice might sound off base at first. Of course you should desire to be fairly compensated for your work. But when you have a career and pay scale that you’re satisfied with for the time being, as well as an employer you trust, it’s far better to enjoy that contentment than to compare yourself constantly to other people.
In a healthy employer-employee relationship, doing well with the responsibilities given to you should lead to opportunities on its own. If you’re fortunate enough to be in that situation, focus on doing your job to the best of your ability, and let your performance take care of the rest.
Acknowledge the help you receive
None of us have complete control over our lives or careers. Ask anyone you see as successful in their field, and odds are they’ll tell you some of their success came from being in the right place at the right time, from having someone else give them a break.
We can’t control the opportunities we’re given. But we can make the best of what we have. And here we’ll let Paul have the last word: “I firmly believe most of what influences our success is well outside our control. It’s what you do with the part that you can influence that can set you apart from the rest of the pack. Therefore, be the best you can be. Even an average Joe can find great success.”