I’ve enjoyed two, very full, careers. First, I served in the Navy for nearly 30 years and second I enjoyed a 15 year career as a senior administrator in post-secondary education. When I look back on my working life I recognize that I was very fortunate throughout my working career to have achieved a measureable level of success. So much so, that many say that I was very lucky at each stage of my career development.
I have admit that there was some luck involved in being in the right place at the right time to take advantage of some opportunities. However, it took much more than 'luck' to go from a high-school dropout as an Ordinary Seaman to a naval Commander. Likewise in my civilian career I held progressively higher positions and after several job changes ended my second career as the Vice President of Finance and Administration of Cambrian College where I oversaw seven departments involving over 70% of the college's employees.
Some define ‘Success’ as ‘Happiness’. It’s hard to argue with this definition. As your parents have heard me say many times; success is being so excited about the thought of going back to work Monday morning that you can’t sleep Sunday night.
However, I like to take this a step further by adding - ‘reaching your personal potential’. I don’t think that you can truly be happy if you’re not satisfied that you’ve fully reached your personal potential. Then and only then can you equate ‘Success’ with ‘Happiness’ with the satisfaction that you’ve accomplished everything you could in your career.
So for me ‘Success’ is
the happiness and satisfaction you derive from knowing that you’ve truly reached
your potential. For each of us this can be very different. We all don’t have the
potential of curing cancer or designing a spaceship capable of reaching Mars.
So it’s important to realistically know what you are capable of through hard
work and determination and not beat yourself up over not achieving unrealistic
When I reflect on all of the changes I made during each of my careers, in my efforts to reach my personal potential, I see that there were four constants that I relied on for each change or promotion. These were:1. Motivation - an unquenchable drive to better my situation,
2. Education - always seeking opportunities to leverage my knowledge
3. Risk Taking - willingness to step out of my comfort zone,
4. Transitional Skills - my ability to transition my skills to the next job.
I refer to these as my four Secrets of Success.
Frequency of Change
As a civilian I changed jobs on average every 3.6 years during my 15 year civilian career. On each occasion I relied heavily on these ’Secrets for Success’. First it always took a high level of Motivation to seek out each new position. Then I had to Take a Risk each time to leave the comfort and security of a job I had been doing for a few years for the uncertainty of a new position. To obtain each new position I leveraged my Education to demonstrate my suitability. Finally once I obtained the new position I relied heavily on my ability to Transition my Skills to excel in my new position.
Each of the four Secrets of Success are discussed on the following pages with examples on how these were leveraged to contribute to my success.