The world over knows them. Their faces appear on apparel. Their posters hang in places they have never even heard of. Their names inspire awe. How did people like Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Stephen King and Jay Z make it to the top? The secret is simple; they chose the perfect careers for themselves.
To succeed at something, you must have a perfect understanding of what it is and why you want it. Therefore if one wants a perfect career, they must know what a career is in the first place. Most times, the word career is used interchangeably with a job yet the two are very different.
A career is a series of connected employment opportunities, where you build up skills at earlier employment opportunities to move you into higher paying and higher prestige employment opportunities later on. You know that yours is a career if in five years, you’re planning to be doing something very similar to what you’re doing now, but hopefully with more income and more interesting problems to tackle.
A job is simply something you do to earn money. There is no emotional attachment and the work often doesn’t interest you at all. In five years, you’ll likely not be doing anything like your current job.
In a career, however, your goal is to not only get the task done, but it’s also to learn skills, gain experiences, build connections, and put yourself in position for promotions, raises, and possibly similar positions in other organizations. That’s a lot more than just getting the task done, and that means giving it your all.
So what qualities must one look for in a career?
A career must be intellectually stimulating and challenging work, must give one independence and they should be able to reap the rewards of their effort.
A satisfying career should be free of constricting rules and outside control. The individual should have absolute autonomy in everything from creativity, to management to finances.
One of the biggest driving forces in satisfactory careers is the complexity involved in creating and developing organizations that outlive the individual. To build a lasting career one must offer something so authentic that no one else can replicate it. This forces the individual to immerse themselves in their work with all the faculties of their mind. They are determined to outwork and outsmart themselves everyday if they have hopes of getting far.
Reaping the rewards
In his bestseller Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell studies the lives of successful people revealing the shocking hard work involved. “. . . And what’s more, people at the very top don’t work just harder or even much harder than anyone else. They work much much harder.” This means that before one reaps the rewards, they have to put in time and effort. You have to work harder and smarter in order to get what you are after. There is no success without hard work but this shouldn’t be a problem if you are doing what you love. As Gladwell says; “Hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning. Once it does, it becomes the kind of thing that makes you grab your wife around the waist and dance a jig.” And the sweetest part of all this hard work should be the rewards.