It’s been a short time since I transitioned out of the military and began a new career in Corporate America. Since then, I’ve had a minute to reflect back on what I now clearly know was overcoming one of the biggest hurdles of my adult life— reinventing myself. I’m sure some of you reading this may not necessarily associate the word “reinvent” with career transition but those who’ve done it well know exactly what I mean… it just seems to fit.
But I’ll be honest… after talking with dozens of people who I’ve considered to be successful in both military and civilian careers alike, reinvention of oneself is a difficult commitment and even tougher to do without pain to fuel it. I believe our lives turn on small hinges and every small move represents choices. It’s easy to get complacent spending a little too much time going down a path and then wonder how you got so far from where you wanted to be. In my case this wasn’t an option, my young family was counting on me to make it happen, so I chose to rise to the occasion.
Taking on an entrepreneurial mindset I treated myself like a startup. Needing to get off the ground, I bootstrapped with mentors and other learning resources like books and podcasts. I sought out new skills and took advantage of every program I possibly could to gain a competitive edge.
My focus was spending any and all free time with my head down, I couldn’t help but notice my children watch me work. There is something miraculous about being a father that fuels my drive, I saw my wife and kids belief in where we were going. Without their unwavering support I could not have done this.
Recognizing the need to stand out I felt that college wouldn’t be enough. How could I differentiate myself when there were so many people earning the same credentials? Don’t get me wrong, college is good– but only if you grasp the underlying juxtaposition of why you’re attending in the first place. A degree isn’t always a requisite to create value, in many cases there are other ways to create the same outcomes or better if you’re just willing to find solutions and take action.
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
I self-studied marketing & social media and learned how to bring more value to my work while also lending credibility to my personal brand. This took years of consistency that often became tiresome and even lonely at times. However, the struggle was worth it because the personal and professional rewards helped lead me to my current role.
I’m going to share how I made specific changes in my life that have helped align me to where I’m going and who I want to become. This isn’t for everyone and NOT an overnight success formula. This WILL require consistent EFFORT and TIME, even loneliness at times. So if you are content in life– stop reading this now because there will be countless moments where you’ll want to settle or quit, you’ll do both if you’re not committed. But if you’re hungry, even if you don’t know exactly where you’re going– this strategy will help you figure it out one day at a time.
If you are still reading I hope you’ll learn to find joy in the journey as I have. If you’re willing to learn you can grow the willpower and dedication to adopt these four behaviors and turn them into habits. All this begins with the premise that you can’t see, read or hear anything without somehow changing your physiology– I’ve found there aren’t many people who go out of their way to do this, over time this will become your unique advantage.
Do the following consistently and you’ll start transforming:
1. Read/Listen to non-fiction frequently… Immerse yourself for 30 minutes almost every day. Many of the greatest minds in the world have written books on business topics ranging from marketing, sales, economics, and how-to guides on in-demand skillsets such as coding and social media marketing. Mark Cuban made it a priority to constantly read books and this gave him an edge in business. At a minimum, this will give context to business problems and help formulate better outcomes.
2. Listen to podcasts and watch videos that bring new and relevant insights to your desired field of work. Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. Listening to an hour a day of interviews with a professional is alike to a mentoring session. My drive to and from work involves an audiobook or podcast. Many conference talks and audiobooks are recorded and posted on YouTube, these can be listened to in your car too. (please don’t watch while driving)
3. Work to understand human behavior. To truly succeed you need to take an interest in psychology to find patterns on why humans behave and respond to things the way they do. Napoleon Hill wrote the classic book Think & Grow Rich, some say affirmations are hokey but I swear by them- read the book and you’ll know what I mean. I’ve always believed psychological messaging [marketing] is one of the most important skills anyone could have regardless of your vocation. Dr. Robert Cialdini wrote a fantastic book titled Influence, the Psychology of Persuasion that will help you bring this subject to light.
4. Experiment, iterate, fail, repeat. Success is rare on first attempt, or even second or third and so on… To succeed, you must keep going even when it seems like there isn’t a favorable outcome in sight. If you put in the work while applying what you learned you’ll end up with new and better outcomes. Ideally when you read books and listen to podcasts- hopefully you’ll have an opportunity to learn from other people’s failures instead of making them your own. God knows I’ve made many mistakes and squandered away a lot of time, it’s part of the learning process and I’m better for it– and you will be too.
“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.”Robert Greene
Those who reinvent themselves and succeed seldom do by chance. They are intentional about seeking wisdom and acting on it— They do the hard things. Position yourself to get up to bat more and you’ll improve your chances of hitting the ball- repetition, persistence, and practice makes perfect. No Shortcuts.
One last thing. In this older video, Earl Nightingale talks about the mindset for growth and what it takes to succeed. It’s ironic how the principles and study habits he described remain just as relevant today as so eloquently said many years ago.
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