The Leadership Blog

Don't Let Your Career Be: The Magical Mystery Tour

career goals communication growth leadership making a positive impact Jul 23, 2023

Have you ever felt like your career was a Beatles song?  In 1967 the Beatles recorded, “The Magical Mystery Tour.” If you haven’t heard it in a while, it’s worth listening to.  It’s  a great song but not a great way to go through life.  Yes, there is a bit of mystery in all our lives.  None of us has a magic ball allowing us to see into the future, but we shouldn’t just let life happen to us.  We need to take control of our lives.

Your potential, albeit a bit of a mystery now, is revealed through maturity.  Yes, there’s definitely benefits to getting older.  Everything you’ve gone through prepares you for what you’ve been created to do in life.  That includes the good, the bad and the ugly.  I did a little research and found a great Harvard Business Review article with five tips to help us reach our potential.


  • Managing Your Career is Your Responsibility


Sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it?  Well, not always.  How many times have you said, or someone you know said, “I didn’t get the promotion, because the boss doesn’t like me.  Or I didn’t get the job because Sally kissed up to the boss.”  Maybe you didn’t get the job because Sally was more qualified, didn’t make excuses and put in the extra effort to be successful.  You’ve got to take responsibility and make the necessary changes to increase your chances of getting the next promotion.


  • Know Yourself


This also sounds easy, but our emotions can sometimes cloud our judgment of ourselves.  Face it, you might not be a 10, but if you put effort into it you could be a nine.  I don’t think anybody should see themselves as a 10.  There’s always something else to learn.  Take a few minutes right now to write down your three greatest strengths and weaknesses.  The strengths might be easier to recognize than your weaknesses.  If you're struggling, read the book Strengths Finder 2.0. I love this book and there’s a Gallup survey assessment you can take to really help you key in on your top five.


  • Excel at Critical Tasks


Now you need to determine what tasks are critical for you.  Here are a few to think about…time management, communication, technology, financial competence, resilience, decisiveness and critical thinking.  Every career has key skills needed for success, you need to figure out what YOU need and work on developing them.  You can get better at things with focus and effort.  I was never great at math.  I was a journalism major, but when I wanted to lead a public television station, I put effort into learning about business accounting.  I’ll never be an accountant, but I understand asset depreciation these days.


  • Demonstrate Character and Leadership


You know, character/integrity is doing the right thing when nobody's watching. You have to lead yourself well before you can lead others.  Leadership is definitely something you can improve if you have a growth mindset.  You can take an online course, go back to college or just read a book and put into practice what you learn.  Before long you’ll see your leadership strengthen.


  • Careers Stall by Playing it Safe


This one is the hardest for me.  Life is about taking risks.  I’m not opposed to taking risks, but I’m pretty calculated about them.  You’ve got to think big, dream big, strive to do big things and that won’t happen by staying in your comfort zone.  New York Times bestselling leadership author John Maxwell says. “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”  I have the honor of teaching leadership classes for public media professionals from across the country.  I love learning from them too…but I often hear people who are frustrated because they aren’t getting promoted where they work.  My answer is, you may need to go work somewhere else.  Don’t be afraid.  Don’t play it safe.  You have to give up to go up.  I worked 14 years at a PBS station in Pennsylvania.  I loved the people and the community.  I had been promoted many times and was in the number two position.  I longed to lead a PBS station.  I had to pack up my family and move in order to make that dream come true.  Was it scary?  Absolutely, but I couldn’t play it safe and wonder if I could have done it.  I had to go for it.  My move to the Carolinas was one of the best decisions of my life.  Taking over a failed organization was also one of the most difficult things I’ve EVER done, but I’m so grateful I didn’t play it safe and stay where I was.

Yes, our lives are a little like the Beatles song Magical Mystery Tour, but by doing the five things I’ve shared, you’ll be taking some of the mystery out of your professional career. You’ve got this.  Stay focused on growth, because your potential is worth the effort my friend.

Until next time,