Build Your Wings on the Way Down

I started my career with Mary Quant in the swinging sixties and never looked back. One lesson I learned right at the beginning was figure out what you’re good at, and then focus on becoming great at it. As the writer Ray Bradbury said: “jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down.”

It’s taken a fair amount of grit; a combination of discipline, commitment and focus. It’s been an exciting ride and I’m far from done. There are a few lessons learned along the way, here are a few for those looking for a bit of career advice.

  1. Lead with your heart. Emotion and passion before logic and reason. Think about what you want to do and then figure out how to get there.
  2. Find your niche. It’s the intersection between what you’re good at, what you love to do, and what people value you for.
  3. Find a mentor. Every successful leader has had people along the way who have mentored them, challenged them and had their back. I’ve been very fortunate to have many mentors throughout my career, and I still do.
  4. Be restless. It can push you to new places, try new experiences, think of new ideas and take on new challenges. Have a low boredom threshold.
  5. Move quickly and make things happen. Spending too much time thinking and talking in meetings can breed uncertainty. Back yourself and look (and move) forward.
  6. Stay nimble. Re-invent yourself if you need to. It’s never too late. Remain curious and keep learning.
  7. Work for a company that delivers Responsibility, Learning, Recognition and Joy. Even the best jobs aren’t fantastic 100% of the time, but if you can find those four things, you’re in a good place.
  8. Give back. Find someone to mentor. Give advice freely and help other people succeed.
  9. Make happy choices. Regret is wasted emotional energy. Take responsibility for your own happiness.
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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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