About a year ago, I received a very candid note from one of my mentors, whose counsel I have found particularly invaluable over the last two years. Importantly, we share a common faith, and agree on most things – barring the occasional divergence of opinions.
It was one of those apt reminders that completely repositions you if, for whatever reason, you find yourself losing focus; and as a young professional with new ideas constantly firing through my mind, the most basic of principles could be easily lost in the rush of it all. So such reminders I hold sacred.
Her note very simply read:
“There are 3 kinds of people: Those who have no ideas; those who have good ideas; and those who have good ideas who can influence others.”
I would not doubt for a second that most of us would love to be counted among the latter.
On a monthly basis, I typically receive scores of requests for career guidance from young professionals all across the globe, and it is quite exhilarating to know that my story and messages of hope continue to touch so many lives.
Now I cannot attest to being a career counselor, life coach, or anything like that; but what is very clear to me from the messages that I receive, is that the concerns of many converge on the point of wanting to attain some measure of fulfillment in life – and that, I can certainly identify with.
As an example, we would all agree that the ability to influence others is an indication of one’s capacity as a leader. The truth however, is that many prospective leaders die without ever realizing such potential: Their dreams remain unfulfilled, ideas unimplemented, and many perhaps never attained the level of influence that they were truly capable of within their lifetimes. We must avoid being numbered among such statistics at all costs.
Now it is not uncommon for young professionals to find great difficulty in convincing prospective recruiters that their range of competencies will in any way add value to their organizations. I have personally fallen prey to the rejection bug on numerous occasions; and I must admit that it is a very painful place to be.
However, one of the greatest tragedies of our generation is the confusion between ‘Opportunities’ and ‘Dreams’. A lost opportunity does not equate to a lost dream; and keeping your dream alive in the face of rejection will be your enduring hope.
Rejection should serve as the impetus to perpetually improve your knowledge base and competencies within your area(s) of expertise. Commit yourself to this principle, and in time, you will be duly rewarded.
Equally challenging is convincing prospective financiers that your business idea is viable, and worthy of their investment. The odds are, and have always been proverbially stacked against you – that I know all too well.
However, one ought to remember that, “odds” or not, your dream can be your assured gateway to a better life, and the right opportunity will be your ticket there.
So as uphill as finding and convincing that prospective recruiter, business financier or partner might seem, your sole mission as a professional seeking new opportunities, should be building a case that irrefutably demonstrates your capacity to deliver.
Over the last year, I have found great value in closely examining and “coding” my range of talents and competencies – this in an effort to optimize my contribution to society, while seeking to live a more fulfilled life; and at the heart of this fulfillment for me, is a healthy balance between work, family life, and my spiritual well-being. We ought always be aware of our priorities.
Having said all this, there are seven major lessons that I have learnt thus far on this painful, sacrificial, yet rewarding journey to true fulfillment in life, and I relish this opportunity to share them with you today. I however encourage you to develop a formula that works best for you, and not to treat these ideas as dogmatic – be creative.
The 7 Secrets to a Fulfilling Life and Career
Pray your way to success.
There are few things more rewarding in life than praying and toiling your way to success in the face of dreadful adversity.
Today, we can all testify of the grace and favor of God in our lives; and if we are honest enough with ourselves, so too can each of us attest to adversities in their purest forms – disappointments beyond measure. But why complain about the difficult times, when adversity and disappointments are meant to teach us the virtues of faith, patience, tenacity, humility, and compassion – ultimately molding our characters, and preparing us for new seasons in our lives?
In the words of Theodore Roosevelt – 26th President of the United States of America: “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…”
Adversity and disappointment were never meant to break you, they are meant to make you.
Surround yourself with focused and committed mentors.
Thankfully I have been blessed with a few of those – but by all means, take as much guidance as possible from persons who are demonstrably committed to your personal, professional, spiritual, and academic development.
Build a reliable professional network.
If your professional network has not been working for you, then it probably needs urgent updating. Conferences typically offer ideal networking conditions. However, until that opportunity arises, LinkedIn is the perfect place to start – focus on connections within your specific field(s) of interest.
Stay true to your professional competencies and passions.
It is always a great idea to open your mind to new ideas – new ways of getting your work done. However, caution is advised amidst the adrenaline rush of finding new knowledge, and venturing into the unknown, as it is never a great idea to be veering too far outside of your immediate competencies and passions.
Commit yourself to becoming an expert within your field, and find creative ways of demonstrating that.
I have personally found great value in attending and actively participating in conferences within my specific areas of expertise, and maintaining my visibility thereafter. Given that my professional interests veer towards International Development, I have prioritized my participation in specific annual World Bank and United Nations conferences – where my networking is strategic and deliberate. If you are so inclined, publishing articles in journals, newspapers, blogs, or right here on LinkedIn can also generate some interest around your work (your options are endless – so be creative).
Remain incredibly positive at all times.
This is the surest way of maintaining your sanity through the inevitable pains and uncertainties of your journey. A combination of prayer, faith, writing, studying, and spending quality time with family has made this a whole lot easier for me. Determine what works best for you, and commit yourself to a consistently positive outlook on life – regardless of your circumstances.
Inspire others along the way.
There is hardly anything more rewarding in life than generating social capital by simply sharing a word of encouragement with someone on the verge of giving up on their dreams, or lending a listening ear to someone in search of new opportunities like yourself.
Together, these seven principles have seen me through the lowest and most challenging periods of my life and career, and have certainly brought me a lot closer to God’s divine plan for my life and that measure of personal fulfillment that I so greatly desire.
Today, sharing these very personal thoughts with you is rather liberating for me, and I encourage you to share them with anyone currently on a journey to self-discovery, clarity of vision, peace of mind, or simply in pursuit of a fulfilling life and career.
Just remember that for most of us, true fulfillment in life comes through constant and deliberate action. For everyone else, royal blood perhaps does the trick.