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A Foolproof Formula for Finding an Amazing Career

girl computerWhen I found myself recently consulting the US Navy on how to improve their Supply Chain, it was another noteworthy peak in my career- as a consultant. In that brief consulting gig, I read reports addressed to the Secretary of Defense and during talks with the Navy the pentagon was mentioned as well as being “war time ready.”  So how did I get to this point in my career?

I wasn’t one of those people that knew all along what I was meant to do in life. I’m sure you have read about them. They had nurturing parents, a perfect upbringing, wonderful mentors, all that was missing was unicorns and leprechauns helping them as well. These people knew exactly where they were going in life.  It’s not always that easy for the rest of us. One particular boss of mine was definitely destined to become a Vice President or CEO. I think he was 29 at the time. You could tell he knew exactly what he wanted and how to get it. And sure enough he is a VP of a major corporation in the US. It was in his genes.

So what are the major factors that influence a career path?

Decide what you want as a career and focus on it, or change until it’s the right fit.

If you don’t know exactly what you want early in life and stick to that choice, then take a few risks to find your calling. In my case I wasn’t going to remain a senior buyer/planner at an aerospace company. I eventually took some big risks and went into Information Technology, the Pharmaceutical Industry and Consulting. The key here is taking risks. If you aren’t going to take a career risk you will stay in the same job or career until you croak.

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

My former boss that went on to become a VP was certainly helped by his friend who was CEO of the same corporation. It helped in the hiring process that I had already worked for one of the VP’s in my current company. Yes, raw ability counts most, but having friends in the right places helps enormously as well. Would you rather work with people you already trust and respect, or a group of strangers? Make friends with people who can mentor or help you. Beef up your LinkedIn profile. Your connections can make or break your career.

They keep telling me to follow my passion. Do I?

This is silly advice. Well, somewhat silly. My passion was sports but becoming a professional hockey or tennis player was not going to happen. But I did have an early interest in IT. And this definitely led to my career in IT. So the question is more like this. What kind of problems do you find interesting to solve?  What problems are out there that need solving? Do you wish to solve Management issues? Do you wish to solve Project Management problems? Are you an entrepreneur and have the next greatest invention?  You may not be in your core passion, but you should at least finding meaning and purpose in solving problems that in return give YOU meaning and purpose. This will keep your career interesting.

Read books, a lot of them.

I constantly read.  I may get only one idea from a book but that one idea can provide radical changes.

The book – The Power Of Full Engagement by Jim Loeur and Tony Schwartz, actually led me to build my website – My Life Changes which allowed me to explore my self-development and entrepreneurship side. All from the influence of one book! Reading is an investment in yourself.

Luck will play a role but put yourself in the right place at the right time – and you will get luckier.

When I passed a very long interview with two Vice Presidents (all in French) and got the job, I considered myself lucky. But it wasn’t ALL luck. I had worked hard in both business functions and IT up to that point, so my experience AND luck were both a factor.

People will try to use you to their own advantage and take you away from your career

If you don’t pay attention you will find yourself a slave of your boss and be his (or her) regular puppet for their own needs. I remember one boss that would always be stressed out and assign me any stressed out task, even if it had nothing to do with my job description. He used his powers as a boss to do whatever he liked. It’s important to draw boundaries with people and make sure they don’t get crossed. Don’t become a puppet. If you want to build a career in a certain field don’t let some controlling boss take that away for his own advantage. Ask for training in your career and make sure you draw boundaries.

The era of having a job or career for life is over. Your career will take up a huge part of your life. Take charge of it or someone else will.

Terry Vermeylen is hell bent on rapidly transforming your business into a World Class Operation by major transformation or by eliminating one bad habit at a time.

Terry Vermeylen brings 30+ years of experience in SAP and Supply Chain Process improvement. As an SAP professional and Supply Chain Architect he has worked and consulted for some of the world’s largest and most successful manufacturing companies focusing primarily on the Aerospace and Pharmaceutical industries.

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