It’s a lot easier to give advice than to implement it. You can imagine how acutely aware of this I must be.
After I’ve given out the same piece of advice twenty times (for example, get a mentor), there comes a point when I can’t face myself if I don’t follow it. Sometimes I try to scare myself. I tell myself that my career will go nowhere and I am wasting my time and I will never get what I want without self-discipline. What I really want from that lecture-to-self, though, is courage to do what is difficult.
Part of having career success is finding the courage to implement what you know you should do. Here are three things I’ve come across recently that inspire courage:
1. Courage to start a new business
I have a friend who is studying artificial intelligence at a big university. He tells me that most of the graduate students are ostensibly working on the PhD’s, but they’re really waiting to find some cool company to go work for. I don’t think this is unique to the artificial intelligence geniuses. I think many, many people are waiting for a good idea.
But you can’t always tell it’s a great idea until you try it. When I asked Guy Kawasaki how you know to move forward with a business, he said, “Launch it.” Then he paused and said, “Don’t worry, be crappy.”
So really, you need to just get out and try the business. That’s hard, though. Instigator Blog inspires courage to start by listing five reasons why you should go ahead and say yes to a new business even if you fear it might fail:
You'll learn something. Even if the idea doesn't fly, you'll learn something valuable.
You'll get a rush of adrenaline when you jump in.
You'll realize the value of an idea.
You'll get a chance to connect with people.
You'll be inspired.
2. Courage to make networking strategic and deliberate
Of course, networking is good, and you should do it. But it’s hard. And probably the hardest part is fearing that the person will not be receptive to your networking efforts.
But you still need to be strategic, even in the face of rejection. Ben Casnocha, who surely must be the recipient of hundreds of networking overtures, writes that someone recently tried a nifty networking move on him that he liked: “After we met he studied my blog and reached out to a couple of my friends. After they heard I met with him, they too took a meeting. After they met with the guy they emailed me and we shared our mutual impressions (positive!). Great strategy. The more entry points you have in a relationship with someone the stronger it is.”
This is good advice from Ben, but what really stands out to me is that Ben seems to truly appreciate having the chance to meet this guy. This should give you courage to make overtures of your own.
3. Courage to take control of your own time
All sorts of polls show that time away from the office is a top priority for Generations X and Y. But not everyone does a great job at drawing the boundaries that preserve a home life. In general, it’s hard to draw boundaries because it always seems that what we are involved in is so much more important that violating the boundaries this time is okay.
But Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook shows us that courage to protect his personal life knows no limits. The Wall St. Journal reports: “During one series of talks with Microsoft, Facebook executives told their Microsoft peers they couldn’t do an 8 a.m. conference call because the company’s 22-year-old founder and chief executive, Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg, wouldn’t be awake, says a person familiar with the talks. Microsoft executives were incredulous.”