Successful People Clarify Their Purpose and Direction in Life

Jim Collins is on the cover of the April 2010 SUCCESS Magazine.  He is the author of Good to Great and How the Mighty Fail.  In my book, he’s a thought leader.  Since I’m a career success coach, and he writes about success, I pay attention.  By the way, the April issue of SUCCESS is terrific.  The folks at SUCCESS just keep getting better.  If you’re not already a subscriber, I suggest you go to www.Success.com and subscribe as soon as you finish reading this post.  Trust me on this one.  I am after all, the Common Sense Guy and a career success coach.

The SUCCESS article begins with a great story that highlights the importance of clarity of purpose and direction in creating your personal career success…

“One of his many mentors, business management guru Peter Drucker, advised Collins early on that he would have to make a choice: building an organization that lasts, or ideas.  Collins chose ideas.  ‘There have been lot’s opportunities to build a large organization, institute, consulting firm, and all those things are fine and good, but Peter said you’ve got to choose.  And that’s why I decided to keep everything small and focus on the research, which has been a very good decision’.”

Clarity of purpose and direction is the first of the 4 Cs in my Career Success GPS System.  The other three are: commitment to taking personal responsibility for your career success, unshakeable self confidence and competence in four key career success areas – creating positive personal impact, outstanding performance, dynamic communication and relationship building.

The first step in clarifying your purpose and direction is to figure out what success means to you personally – not your parents, not your professors, not your friends – you personally.  Jim Collins figured out that he has a passion for ideas, not building a large organization.  Then he followed his passion.  Good for him; and good for us.  That simple, but fundamental, decision guided everything he has done as he has gone about becoming a life and career success.

When I was 25, if you asked me what I wanted to be doing when I was 60, I would have told you, “Running a one person consulting, career coaching and speaking business from my house.”  Guess what?  I have been running a one person consulting, career coaching and speaking business from my house ever since 1988.  My clarity of purpose propelled me toward my goal.

I have a friend who is a serial entrepreneur.  He started a software business when he was 27.  He built it up and sold it to a major computer manufacturer by the time he was 35.  He has since started and sold four other companies.  His clarity of purpose lies in the challenge of creating something new, building it into a viable sustainable business and then moving on.

I have another friend who recently retired as the Executive VP of Human Resources for a Fortune 50 company.  We were chatting a few days ago.  She told me that when she was in college, she decided that she was going to join a good company and work her way up the ladder.  She took an entry level HR job with a company she liked.  It took her over 25 years, but she eventually became the most senior HR person in that company.  Her clarity of purpose and definition of career success was different from mine and the serial entrepreneur’s, but she reached her goal.

My second friend told me that her son has yet a different definition of career success.  He is not interested in climbing the corporate ladder, or in being an entrepreneur.  He wants an interesting job where he can contribute, but he doesn’t want to spend inordinate amounts of time at work.  He wants to spend as much time with his family as he can.  His definition of career success is different from his mother, me and my friend the serial entrepreneur.

All four of us have created our own versions of career success.  As a career success coach, I say “right on.”

There is no one correct definition of career success.  There are as many definitions as there are people in this world.  Your definition of career success is what’s right for you – not anyone else.  I would not have been happy building and selling a number of businesses in succession, climbing a corporate ladder or working for a large company in an individual contributor position.  However, as you can tell from the stories of the three people above, they were.  They knew what they wanted and they went after it.  Jim Collins would not have been happy building a large organization.  He clarified what his personal definition of career success and created it.

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people clarify their personal sense of purpose and direction.  Your clarity of purpose provides both a foundation and launching pad for your career success.  The old saying, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t know when you get there” is a cliché but true.  Clarifying your personal definition of career success is the first step to becoming a career success.  As a career success coach, I suggest you take some time and develop your clarity of purpose for your life and career.  Answer this important question.  “How do I define career success for myself?  Keep that purpose and definition of career success in mind as you go about creating the career success you want and deserve.  Your clarity of purpose and direction will help you make important career decisions when you’re confronted with differing opportunities; just ask Jim Collins.

That’s my take on the importance of clarifying your purpose and direction for your life and career.  It’s the important first step in creating the career success you want and deserve.  What’s your opinion on this?  Please take a few minutes to leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us.  As always, thanks for reading.

Bud

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Comments

  1. I totally agree with you “Successful people clarify their personal sense of purpose and direction”. You couldn’t have put it better.

  2. Thanks Nick:
    What is your clarity of purpose and direction?
    All the best,
    Bud

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