My three sons began receiving career advice from me before they even started high school. It was both the curse and the blessing of having a Mother who spent time as the Vice President of Talent and the Vice President of Human Resources at Chick-fil-A. As they matured, I tried to impress upon them the importance of character, competency and chemistry in their professional lives. These are the top tips I shared with them in advising them on starting and growing their careers.
1. Find a purpose, not just a job. A job will provide a paycheck, but a purpose will fulfill your life. Do something that matters to you.
2. Solve problems. The world needs more problem solvers. When you discover a problem, name it, own it and solve it. You add value to your organization when you solve the problem you identify.
3. Take care of you. You cannot perform at your best if you do not take care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. While you are working hard to achieve professional goals, don’t forget to schedule time to take care of you.
4. Go Above and Beyond. Distinguish yourself by doing more than asked and doing jobs no one else wants to do.
5. See opportunities, not obstacles. There is an abundance of both. A positive and optimistic attitude will take you farther and endear you to those with whom you work.
6. Foster the dreams of others. Show interest in helping other people achieve their dreams. It is likely that someone helped you along the way. Pay it forward by helping others on their path.
7. Treat everyone the same and with respect. Strong relationships are core to any success and begin with respect. Remember that everyone you meet is special to someone – treat everyone the way you want the special people in your life to be treated.
8. Protect your reputation. Integrity is currency. Always do what you say you will do when you will say you will do it. Never lie about anything. Avoid anything that even has the appearance of impropriety.
9. Give generously. Share your time, talent and treasure with others. You will give a lot, but you will receive more because of the people you meet and the places generosity will take you.
10. Demonstrate excellence in all that you do. Close enough is never good enough. Do your best at all times.
11. Commit fully to wherever you are. If you are at work, commit to being fully present. If you are with your family or friends, commit to being fully present with them.
12. Set goals and measure your progress. If you don’t clearly define where you want to go and monitor your progress toward the destination, you are not likely to get where you wish to go.
13. Seek and value feedback. Be willing to hear the voice of critics and act on feedback that you receive. Find truth tellers in your life and listen to their wisdom.
14. Share the credit. Rarely does one individual accomplish anything alone. Recognize those who help you along the way and reward them as you are able.
15. Be grateful and gracious. Say thank you often and be willing to give grace to others. In a world full of egos, grateful and gracious people separate themselves. Their lessons and influence are memorable.
I have witnessed first-hand these qualities in people I worked with over the course of my more than thirty-year career at Chick-fil-A. These traits not only aid in career success, they contribute to the enduring impact of the people who possess them.