When I was searching for a new job, I had more than my share of conversations with people who had their own “formula for success.” They would say to me, “When I was in your position, I did this and found my new job very quickly.”
Then they’d tell me I should do what they did, and it’ll happen for me too. They’d sprinkle the word “I” throughout their story. I could always tell they were proud of their accomplishments.
Those conversations would often make me think, “That seems so easy. What’s wrong with me?”
Yet, I know that there isn’t an automatic formula for success (other than trusting God and letting Him be my guide.) Our lives are uniquely different. What might work for me might not work for someone else.
Yet I also know that God puts people in our lives for a reason, so I took a kernel of wisdom from everyone I met, knowing there was a purpose behind our meeting.
It’s Thanksgiving week. Most of us will pause and take time to give thanks for the many blessings in our lives, which usually focuses on the present day.
In looking at the present, we forget the many people who poured something into us that helped us get where we are today. I challenge you to take time to write out a list of the key people who taught you something significant in your life or career.
Try to list at least 20 people (outside of your immediate family) who made a difference in your life: a teacher, co-worker, leader, etc. List what they taught you or what you’re thankful for. Here are mine, in no particular order. Plus, there are many, many more. I can’t list them all here!
- Uncle Les & Aunt Vernie – unconditional love and affirmation
- Bob S. – a professional mentor who also taught me about hospitality
- Dave S. – a professional mentor who taught me to think critically
- Kathy F. – cross your t’s and dot your i’s
- Lee H. – a spiritual leader who taught me the importance of being present in difficult times
- Vern G. – trusting God and handling difficulty with grace
- Walt S. – wisdom and aging gracefully
- Jane W. – helped make me a better writer
- Bob B. – being a servant, giving back to help others
- Gerry S. – a professional mentor who always had a family-first focus
- Lynn W. – how to ask better questions
- Don L. – a friend who was always there when I needed him
- John M. – resiliency and generosity
- Ruben M. & Bill W. – good friends who “understood” in a tough time and were there to help
- Bill M. – how to be a consultant
- Ron G. – the joy of teaching
- Bill M. – the importance of reaching out to offer help, so that someone doesn’t have to ask
- Mike M. – on being yourself in all situations
- Ann K. – who taught me about organizing my desk and prioritizing my task list
- All of those who worked for me over the years who helped make me a better leader
Individuals like this are your formula for success. Say a prayer of thanks as you remember them. Like the Apostle Paul said: I thank my God every time I remember you (Philippians 1:3).
If you can, pick up the phone and call some of the people on your list. Let them know personally what they have meant in your life.