During my police career, I was sometimes accused of being a suck-up or told, “You just seem to get every job you want around here. How come?” I used to tell them if networking, learning more about a topic than other people, making myself available if help was needed or simply being direct and telling people in command of my intention to try for a job or assignment was “sucking up,” then I guess they were right. I wasn’t any smarter than most of these officers, and the only real difference I could ever see was the fact I simply did the actual work needed to move in the direction I wanted to go. It goes with that old saying — how it’s funny, but the harder you work, the luckier you are.
I think rather than wanting to put in the effort, most of the naysayers were simply too lazy to put in the effort, and genuinely seemed content to grumble and whine. I had, and continue to have, little sympathy or patience with that sort. And you shouldn’t either.
What they invariably failed to see was the fact most of any successes I had or continue to have come from essentially one thing: not allowing failure to put a roadblock up in my path. Success is simply the ability to push past failure (sometimes many times, and I’ve had my share) to ultimately find your goal, or at least get close to it. Career paths are a lot like vacations or SWAT operations. You may have the best of intentions and make careful plans, but once the button is pushed and the game is afoot, things change almost instantly. No vacation or SWAT operation (or career) goes as planned. The ability to push past failures (your hotel got wiped out by a hurricane, or the bad guy fought back in unexpected ways) is directly related to the ultimate success or failure of your vacation, SWAT operation — or career.
This ties directly into something else. With the explosion today of blogs, YouTube videos, the endless press releases I get asking me to interview self-proclaimed experts and uncounted other avenues for self-promotion I see, and in the rush for people to tell everyone how good they are, they often miss the point. While making yourself available is always a good idea (“I’m here if you need my skills”), pounding your chest and telling the world how good you are isn’t.
In short, as good friend Mitch Rosen of Mitch Rosen Extraordinary Gunleather said to me not long ago: “Don’t tell people you’re a professional, just be a professional.” Mitch has made the best possible gunleather from the very beginning and clients sought him out. He’s had successes and failures, but he pushed through them. It works.
Simply be the best you can be — and be tenacious — and the rest will follow. Mostly.