I have spent the past month on the sandy shores of my beautiful, sleepy home town in Florida adjusting to life after active duty and preparing to move to Okinawa, Japan (more on that next post). This has been a welcomed, long overdue break! It has allowed me to visit with family and friends for longer than customary holiday visits that are always too short with too much time in between. I have been able to see two of my youngest cousins, one is a high school senior and the other is a high school freshmen, several times including a ride in '65 Stang (yes, I'll post on it one day and include pictures). They are both starting to really look to their futures beyond high school and have grown up hearing stories from me of my global adventures.
Hanging out with one of them the other night put me in a reflective mood because it was senior night at her volleyball game. I thought about all of the advice people gave me throughout high school about how to plan my future, how to be successful, how to walk my own path, and so on. I realized that many of the same themes are addressed in Barker's book. While I do not think his intended audience was high school students, he should see if he can get his book added to a summer reading list somewhere. It is a fun color, has a unique name, covers some really interesting historical events, and does give solid insights from cover to cover.
I am sure many of you know high schoolers, college students, family members, neighbors, colleagues, or other folks in your life who could use a motivating, success oriented sound bite conveyed to them. Here are some of the ones I found in the last half of Barking up the Wrong Tree that you can put into your phone's notepad to have at your finger tips should the occasion arise. I do not recommend randomly spouting these off to people on the street corner, in the office kitchen, or when your kids call asking for money but you be the judge.
"Networking isn't just a skill anybody can learn. It's a skill you already know. Make friends" (page 139). That old saying "it's not what you know, it's who you know" is true to a degree. "Networking is about a personal relationship" (page 140). Stop looking at networking as a transaction; start looking at it as a friendship and go out there and make new friends!
Get a mentor, "mentors make learning fun. They add a relationship to the stress and help you overcome the frustration while pushing you to be your best" (page 152). Find someone who has walked a lot of life, not someone who is your peer. "This is a marriage, not a one-night stand...you want someone who scares you a bit" (page 155). Also, "mentors are like potato chips: you can't have just one" (page 157). No one person is ever going to be able to help you with every complexity of your life/career.
"Sometimes the mere appearance of confidence can be the difference between winning and losing" (page 177). This does not only apply to sports and dates, think job interview. A confident first impression could be the difference between you getting hired over someone else. "Your level of confidence is at least as important as how smart you are when it comes to how much money you end up making" (page 178).
Love yourself! "People with self-compassion don't beat themselves up, they have less fear of failure, which translates into less procrastination as well as more grit" (page 197). "Self-compassion [also] lets you see the facts and accept that you're not perfect" (page 197). "Recognize your failures and frustrations without either denying them or seeing them as the end of the world" (page 198). **Ahem - millennials** You were all thinking it! I just said it. Yes, we have come to see melodrama like this as a hallmark of their generation but the rest of us can be just as guilty so fill up your self-love tank and get a grip!
"Ambition alone is predictive of success, and motivation predicts career success better than intelligence, ability, or salary" (page 210) so get motivated! Find something to do that you enjoy and that is challenging and meaningful. "Challenging, meaningful work makes us happy and fulfilled" (page 212). "Meaningful work means doing something that's (a) important to you and (b) something you're good at" (page 210). Use your signature strengths - "those things you're uniquely good at" (page 210).
"We often don't choose to do what really makes us happy; we choose what's easy" (page 247) or expected or profitable or comfortable. Have a plan to choose you and your happiness and the rest will follow. "Without a plan, we do what's passive and easy - not what is really fulfilling" (page 248).
Finally, "success is not the result of any single quality; it's about alignment between who you are and where you choose to be. The right skill in the right role. A good person surrounded by other good people. A story that connects you with the world in a way that keeps you going. A network that helps you, and a job that leverages your natural introversion or extroversion. A level of confidence that keeps you going while learning and forgiving yourself for the inevitable failures. A balance" (page 265).
We'll be taking a craft break on Oct 26th for me to show you what I've been up to when not traveling all around Texas, Florida, and Japan. We'll resume book talks with The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations on Nov 9th so order up a copy and get ahead of the game!