How to be Successful

Everyone wants to be successful right?  Or more accurately, no one wants to fail.  But how can you find success in your life, your job, or anywhere else?  The answer is simple.

Love what you do.

There’s nothing that will make you better than doing what you love and pursuing it with all your heart.  I was reminded of this over the weekend after I learned that George N. Parks, the longtime director of the UMass Minuteman Marching Band had passed away suddenly.  While most of you probably don’t know of him at all, those of us who attended UMass saw him every week in the fall standing in front of thousands of football fans, loving his job.

Here’s a clip of him speaking to new drum majors about leadership.

Of course he did have a pretty cool job…

Who wouldn’t want to stand up and direct a fabulous band in front of thousands of cheering fans?

But even a great job sucks sometimes – that fabulous end product was the result of hours of practice night after night slogging it out on the field.  Just ask anyone who was ever part of that organization.  It wasn’t right until it was perfect and if it was worth doing at all, it was worth doing right.

So how do you continue to love your job even when it’s hard and frustrating and boring?  That’s the real trick.  Here are some tips that I learned from Mr. Parks and others which might help you keep going when the going gets tough:

  1. Eyes (with pride) on the Prize – You (and your team) need to know there’s a reason for putting in all of that effort.  Whether it’s a great performance, a satisfied customer or a big bonus, there’s always a payoff.  The more concrete you can make that prize, the better.
  2. Swagger… with class – Be proud of what you do and how well you do it.  Let your team know that what they do is important and that they are great at doing it.  Encourage classy behavior – don’t overshoot confident and hit cocky.
  3. Care – The worst advice I’ve ever heard:  Don’t get personally involved – it’s just business.  That’s crap.  Personal involvement is one of the key components of management success (if you don’t believe me, go read First Break All the Rules).  Care about your team members, care about the quality of the work you do and care about your customers.  Take care of each other.

I know a lot of you are reading this and saying “but what if I’m doing something I don’t love?”  Maybe you are settling for a comfortable job and a paycheck instead of pursuing your passion.  Sometimes you have to take that road to make ends meet but keep your eyes open for opportunities because in the end you will be happier and more successful if you love your job.

UMass lost a great asset this week, and those big shoes will have to be filled by someone.  In the meantime, rest in peace George Parks and go UMass!

Looking for more ideas on how to grow your management and leadership skills?  Why not join the Survive Your Promotion group on LinkedIn?  Share management and leadership resources, ask questions, make connections and help other emerging leaders!

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