I spent the past decade observing my friends around me who have succeeded in life, all of them possess some commonalities which include a well-paying job, wealth and achieving a certain status in their careers. Hence these commonalities formed my definition of success and I tried to emulate them by chasing after better paying jobs and money. However each time I face a setback, such as a failed job interview or losing money in the stocks market, I feel myself getting lost in life. As a result of that, I suffered from burn out too.
That made me ponder on what makes them successful other than having good jobs, money and status…
After years of observing, brainstorming and thinking about the mysterious factors that my successful friends possess and experimenting these traits in my life, I have come up with 3 ideas as shown below.
3 Traits of Successful & Happy People:
- Believe that they are in control and take action
- Growth mindset
- Willingness to learn
Let me share my experience of applying these traits…
Some people let life happen to them, while others are busy taking control of their lives.
I discovered my passion in using analytics to manage goods flow back in 2017 when I was working as an operations manager in a warehouse. At that time, I decided that I will pursue data analytics as a career. I made the move to my next job when I was told during the interview with my then boss that there will be opportunities to work on analytics projects if I join the company.
During my first year in that job, I was managing projects that didn’t align with my interest and was informed that any data analytics projects will be managed by a new department that was being set up. I tried several times to transfer to that department, but was told that I didn’t qualify due to my lack of technical skills. I was disheartened as life didn’t go the way as planned…
As I was recovering from my disappointment, I sat down to chart my path so that I can move forward. I was rejected because of my lack of technical skills, but I have the ability and willingness to learn and I was going to do just that.
To make up for my lack of coding skills, I used my lunch breaks, after work hours and weekends to learn coding. To improve my knowledge in data science technologies, I started reading medium articles and attending conferences. To learn machine learning, I attended courses after work and on weekends. To gain experience, I asked my ex-colleagues and friends around me if I can help them create data visualizations, perform analytics for them or do coding to automate their work. I was doing all these in addition to my job scope and I was learning at an extraordinary pace. It took me less than 2 months to learn Python from scratch and I was able to develop my first script to automate data manipulation for visualization display.
I realized that I was the one in control of my direction and my own learning even when my job tasks at work didn’t support my goal.
Recently, I realized that having a growth mindset is crucial to our lives. When I first started out my current job few months back, I realized that I lack presentation skills. My presentations were incoherent and my mind blanks out when I was being asked questions during my presentations. I couldn’t present confidently without reading off a script. I was comparing myself with my peers at school and at work and was feeling discouraged. Why am I not as fluent or not think as fast as them? I resigned to fate that I am bad at presentation and that’s just the way I am.
One day, my friend recommended me a book that he was reading for his MBA course and its called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Professor Carol S. Dweck. Below is a quote from the book and after reading the book, I was inspired face the challenge and improve myself!
“In a growth mindset, challenges are exciting rather than threatening. So rather than thinking, oh, I’m going to reveal my weaknesses, you say, wow, here’s a chance to grow.”
— Carol S. Dweck
I began to read up on consulting framework by McKinsey to improve in framing of my projects and consulted my peers whom I admire for having good presentation skills on the techniques to frame their thought processes. I learned about how to think in order to answer questions from one of my peers who have overcame the problem that I was facing. I was paying more attention in meetings to listen in on how others pitch their ideas, ask questions and answer questions. I was also not shying away from any opportunities to present so that I can have more opportunities to practice.
Other than improving my skills technically, I shifted my mindset. I no longer viewed presentation as a situation where I was judged. I see it as a way of sharing my knowledge to my listeners. As for the questions asked during presentations, instead of seeing them as a way for the listeners to find flaws in my work, I view them as a form of exchanging ideas and for me to gauge if I am clear in delivering my message. An interesting way to see this is, we can use our listeners’ ideas to build onto ours.
As what my friend told me, in life when someone give us an item and we take it. It’s only one person owning that item. Whereas for ideas, if one gives an idea and the other gives another, ideas build up and it become two ideas. We should always embrace questions and new ideas.
In just less than 3 months, I began to observe that my presentation skills improved quite a fair bit. I was cruising through my presentations without using any scripts and answering the questions confidently. I realized a shift mindset helped me see that presentations can be fun too.
Throughout these years, seeing myself grow and overcoming challenges is the most rewarding thing that happened for me. I do feel successful every time I overcome hurdles in life and happy that I have grown. I came to realize success is simpler than I thought it was, it’s all about the growth.
Hope this article finds you well!