I have diligently searched for the secret of success and fulfillment. Ideally, as I’m sure many would agree, this should be a quick, fast-tracked way to skip all the hard work and drudgery.
Finally, I have solved the mystery. Are you ready? Here it is:
There is no secret shortcut. There are processes and steps of development and growth. But there are no shortcuts.
Sorry to disappoint.
This is very clear in the physical world. I observed this process recently with my little daughter: Babies first learn to turn over, then push up, crawl, then sit up, pull ourselves up, then stumble for a few steps, walk steadily, then run, and so forth.
Less than two decades after being formerly helpless newborns, some people can perform amazing feats: twirl gracefully on ice skates, surmount the highest peaks on the planet, run a mile in under four minutes, or dunk a basketball.
Any gardener can tell you that seeds must be planted in suitable soil, watered, fertilized, and cultivated before plants grow to the point of bearing fruit.
As a gardener, my wife doesn’t decide one day that she’d like fruit and vegetables in our backyard and, voilà, they suddenly appear on plants in rows within well cultivated gardens.
Yet we somehow are willingly deceived by the ostensible “magicians” who can make mastery of their fields look easy. Such artists might even play on our emotions to increase the mystery of mastery and further draw us into the allure.
Some of us like the illusion that success is random, achievement is based on a lucky break, and fulfillment doesn’t require a systematic and consistent process. Maybe we believe this rationalizes our laziness and procrastination.
But we fool ourselves when we introduce such a disconnect into our thinking. We distort reality rather than learning its rules.
This is an important consideration for career development planning. There is simply no trick, tip, or technique — no alchemic elixir or magic shortcut — toward success.
Granted, there are ways to be smart to speed up the process of development. The 80/20 principle applies in career development as in many other areas.
For instance, determining one’s unique calling is key. As Viktor Frankl observed: “Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.”
Additionally, seeking mentors and apprenticeship opportunities early in life is vital. Getting to the truth about life situations and people — embracing reality rather than delusions and wishful thinking — is important.
In the end, I have decided that I must study and prepare for the process, determining the best way to focus my energy and time. Rather than being continually distracted by the never-ending process of getting general knowledge, I am honing in my focus on the specific knowledge that I need to advance my career. More on this in future installments.