While college graduation is a milestone, this accomplishment alone will not make you successful. To be successful after college, know that it is what you do with your degree, with the knowledge garnered and the opportunities that you seek, that will create a path for you. You are your choices.
As you graduate and embark on a career, you get to choose your core values. Not knowing what lies ahead on the road to your future can be very stressful, but you get to choose who you become on your road to success.
While life experience will offer you the greatest lessons, let’s review four life traits that will make your path a less tangled one.
1. Self-awareness: Your Personal Brand
Your personal brand is not what you think about yourself: it is how others perceive you.
Self-awareness offers the capacity for introspection; discerning a sense of your impact on others via your words, thoughts and beliefs. Developing self-awareness — with the goal of positively and productively impacting the people and situations in your world — is the first step in creating a successful life. Though you cannot always control a situation in the workplace or at home, you alone have control over how you react.
As you review your impact, look at yourself objectively and be open to feedback. Take a few personality tests. Taking time for self-reflection and self-improvement will enhance your relationships both personally and professionally.
2. Humility: Open a World of Possibilities
Arrogance and narcissism are unattractive. We are not all-knowing nor always correct in our assumptions and decisions. Humility is one of the most attractive personality traits, exhibiting your inner strength and personal confidence.
Humble people use good judgment but are not judgmental. In lieu of creating silos — an “us” versus “them” mindset that shuts down collaboration and relationship — humility creates a culture of trust, helping people remain open to feedback, frank discussions and problem solving. Humility adds to a culture of respect.
3. Positivity: Your Attitude Sets the Tone
“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”
A change in perspective changes everything! In a typical workday, both negative and positive situations will occur. Why focus on the negative? When we take time to think about what went right during the day, we reduce our stress and boost our mood.
Approach life with optimism, creativity and energy. A positive mindset will increase your self-esteem, health, performance and relationships!
4. Leadership: Lead from the Seat You are In!
As a leader, your goal is to pull people towards you rather than to push yourself on people. You can influence colleagues, clients and vendors no matter where you sit within the company.
Being “the boss” does not automatically make you a leader. Leadership skills include collaboration, trust, communication skills, resilience and — crucially — “listening to hear” versus “listening to speak.” Leaders who exhibit those skills are followed no matter what their title or position is.
Hone your leadership with a focus on the big picture. Read industry publications and blogs. Follow thought leaders on social media, blogs and podcasts. Attend industry events, conferences and webinars. Meet as many people as you can in your organization and listen to truly learn from them. Understand the role you play in the company and be sure to contribute every day — first and foremost — by bringing an engaged and focused YOU to work!
As Mark Twain said, “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”
Once you graduate, your cultivation of these four traits will influence what feels like a great match as you seek employment. A year ago, our son Samuel graduated from Swarthmore College. As he researched companies to apply to, he paid special attention to the culture. Culture is crucial: it influences the way employees interact with each other, vendors and clients. And the collective culture of a company stems from the core values of its employees. What values will you choose to hone, in addition to the four above, to contribute to your company’s culture, and to your success?
The word kaizen in Japanese refers to constant improvement. For true success, strive to live a life of kaizen. Hone your skills and become a better version of yourself every day. In the words of Cesar Chavez, “True wealth is not measured in money or status or power. It is measured in the legacy we leave behind for those we love and those we inspire.” In the end, you work for you! You are YOUR company! The world is your oyster! Carpe Diem!
Gail Lowney Alofsin an author, keynote speaker, adjunct professor and humanitarian. She has worked for Newport Harbor Corporation for over three decades and currently serves at the Director of Corporate Partnerships and Community Relations. Gail’s book, Your Someday is NOW – What are YOU Waiting For? has raised over $41,000 for non-profit organizations
Gail travels from Newport, Rhode Island to present at your company or conference. For more information, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.