Success comes from your heart
At Target, I had 8 jobs in 11 years. Each time I started a new job, it got harder. The stakes were higher. And I had to “figure it all out” more quickly. Luckily, I had some very amazing mentors along the way that lifted me up, showed me the ropes, and helped me figure out the secrets to success. In my experience, and as I look at my very successful mentors, there are five things that successful people have in common...
1. Resilience and grit
In my mind, this one is the most important attributes of being successful. My dad, a successful entrepreneur, used to say that he’s not the smartest guy in the room, but he always worked the hardest. That is really what separates great ideas from great businesses. Everybody has ideas, not everybody has the tenacity to make them happen. When we were starting Fly Feet, I heard "NO" so many times, whether it was trying to find real estate, securing capital, the idea itself, trying to hire coaches, on and on and on. It was so frustrating. But I knew the idea had legs and through lots of research and trial and error, we successfully launched. It would have been so much easier to have taken an easier path and compromise all of my dreams. BUT THEN I WOULD HAVE COMPROMISED ALL OF MY DREAMS!!! When the chips are down and things get hard, that’s when you really see who has staying power and who is just along for the ride.
2. The ability to solve problems
Anyone can lead when everything is going as planned. True leaders emerge when the shit is hitting the fan and they can figure out how to solve their way out of the storm. A year into my merchant role in Target Canada, we were in full crisis mode. I was put into a Supply Chain role to quickly solve some major issues the network was having and putting Q4 deliveries at risk. I had never worked in supply chain and really didn’t know where to start. So, I relied on what I did know how to do – leverage my resources, ask good questions, rally the team, get scrappy, challenge assumptions, celebrate small wins until they added up to big wins, and low and behold we figured it out. We delivered Q4 as a team. (To be clear ... we definitely didn't figure it ALL out because well, you know how that ended...) Not because I’m so smart, but because I was willing to just roll up my sleeves and be honest about where I needed help, and confident and vulnerable enough to press forward based on what I felt like I did know. I made plenty of mistakes along the way, but I was always accountable, picked myself back up and kept going. This role was one of my most profound leadership experiences. Generally speaking, when you screw up while trying to make things happen, you have a lot of latitude to recover well.
3. EQ – your emotional intelligence
Connecting with people is a gift. People want to be a part of something led by someone who they believe has their back, who they can trust, who they can be vulnerable with without judgement, and who they can relate to. Higher emotional intelligence helps us to create better networks of support, overcome setbacks, and persevere with a more resilient outlook. I firmly believe that connecting with people and using your network to harness your energy is one of the most important things in finding success. I would never have made it through the corporate grind without that. It legit takes a village. But you'll never find it if you're not willing to invest your time and energy in forging meaningful relationships BOTH for the benefit of yourself AND for the benefit of others.
4. Having the guts to follow your gut
If you only ever do what’s been done before, you’ll never do anything great. As you continue along in your career, you’ll build an arsenal of experiences that you can draw on to solve problems and create meaningful strategies. But it takes guts to put your ideas out there and try new things. I have never run a fitness studio before. I've learned a lot along the way and made plenty of mistakes. But, I know how I want to feel when I go somewhere to workout. And, I know how to run a business. Somewhere in there lies the right answers. Having the guts to try things, admit when we screw up and constantly ask for feedback goes a long way.
5. Knowing who you are
People want to follow people who are authentic and real and vulnerable. People who can admit when they screwed up, who are willing to ask for help, but willing to put it all out there to do cool things. If you're trying to hide because you're scared you don't have all of the answers, your team will see it a mile away. The imposter syndrome is real. I experience it in every new job I go into, and still today. One of my biggest lessons in this realm was gifted to me by one of favorite bosses at Target. He said to me as he was stepping into a new role to lead a team I was on... "I ask a lot of questions. I didn't get this job because I know all of the answers. I got this job because I've learned how to ask the right questions." Just be who you are. It takes guts, but we're all broken and imperfect in our own beautiful ways. Revel in it. Don't hide it. It becomes a catalyst for growth instead of a barrier.
Notice what isn’t on this list? Statistics, accounting, or anything that you’d study in business school. An MBA is nice and I believe it's helpful, (sidebar - it worked out well for me as that’s where I met my hubs!) but it’s not the ultimate key to success. Success comes from your heart.