Thursday, July 26, 2012

You Can Have It All

I'm prefacing this commentary by saying that I've had a lot of time in the car the past two days and not a lot of sleep (anyone connected to me on FB and Twitter can attest that I've produced some odd posts in the past 48 hours) And while you may be tempted to think that I'm getting up on my soap box, in reality, I'm just speaking freely, which last I checked, is still allowed (for now).

You can have it all. Everything your little heart desires can be yours. Wealth. Love. Bears season tickets. All of these can be had. That's what makes this country so freakin' great.

If you're willing to work harder than the next guy, you can drive a BMW and live in an upscale neighborhood.

If you send the girl you're crazy about flowers every day, eventually she'll let you buy her dinner and who knows what'll happen from there.

And while the waiting list is long, you can eventually get your hands on some Bears season tickets (or take the shortcut and buy someone else's via Stubhub).

The point is, you can have it all. The only thing stopping you, is you.

Well wait, that's kind of a dick thing to say. Yes, I know. But we really are the ones that get in the way of helping us find what truly makes us happy. Whether it's work or romance or whatever, the only thing stopping you from getting what you want, is you.

I mean, who says you can't have your cake and eat it to? I'm pretty certain Obama hasn't signed that into law yet!

And as such, I think there are four common attributes that separate those who get it, from those who want it.

Number 1: Don't Be Afraid
Let me clarify -- it's ok to be afraid of snakes, they're scary as hell. And the people that wrap them around their neck or wrestle with them deserve what they get (but that's another blog post entirely).

You cannot be successful if you live in fear. If you're concerned that saying the wrong thing will cost you your job or cause your girlfriend to break up with you, get out of that situation now because it's bound to end poorly (and when it does, it likely won't be your decision).

To be successful, you have to have the confidence to know that if she kicks you out, you'll find a better girl waiting for you. If your employer gives you the pink slip, know that one door is closing, but another is opening.

I have a good friend who started an unpaid internship with a very prominent organization a few months back. During the internship, he was offered a position at another firm, and was prepared to accept. However, he decided to ask the company he was interning with if they wanted to offer him a full-time position and they did because they didn't want to lose him. Since then, he's been promoted and has the job he dreamed about, less than a year after going back to school. If he had been afraid to ask and settled for that other job, he wouldn't be nearly as happy as he is today.

So don't be afraid, because if you can't ask small questions in life, you definitely can't ask big ones... And the people that want it all, know how to ask (and receive the answers they want) to big questions. Hearing "No" doesn't hurt quite as bad as you think.

Number 2: Put Yourself Out There
I've met a lot of great people in the past decade since I've been in the work force. But some of the best are the people I've met as a member of the Social Media Club of Chicago. Not only have I made some great contacts from a professional standpoint, I've met some truly wonderful people that I now consider great friends.

The other night I was at an SMC event and I met a couple of really talented people that were in transition career-wise. Super talented. Lucky to be had on any team. But they hadn't found the right opportunity yet. In hearing their stories and talking about them with other people, we made a handful of new connections on Linked In and even talked about some opportunities that they weren't aware of.

They weren't afraid to put themselves out there and because of it, I have a feeling that they're not going to be looking for work when the next SMC event (Aug 23, #SMCChicago for details) rolls around in a few weeks.

Number 3: Help Others and Help Yourself
I had the opportunity to have lunch with a very prominent VP of Marketing that has held numerous high profile titles. We connected on Linked In and he was gracious enough to share some of his time with me. And do you know what the first thing he said to me was? It was "how can I help you?"

You see, it's important to take care of good ole #1, but getting everything you want often entails helping others. He had no (real) reason to meet with me, but he took the meeting. He had no motive to help me (we had no prior history), but he had a profound impact on me and for that, I'm happy to support any endeavors that he needs help with.

I've helped a number of former colleagues land on their feet and it makes me feel good inside, but it also leads me to believe that if I ever need help, they'll be there for me. Donate your time (and money -- if you can), helping others is so simple, yet so powerful.

Number 4: Don't Complain About What You Don't Have
<begin soap box rant> I'm not interested in getting into a political discussion or anything, but I am rather tired of listening to people complain about the things they don't have.

This country was founded on the principle that if you work hard, you can spend your damn money on whatever you want. You don't like the guy driving the pimped out Mercedes, fine, but don't be mad at him, he didn't do anything to you. He worked his ass off and it is his right as an American to spend his money however foolishly he wants to.

Successful people don't waste time worrying about what they don't have and instead focus on how they're going to get what they want. If you want that Mercedes or even if you just want to be more comfortable living the way you want to it, take some night classes, pick up a second job, go after that promotion -- you will get there.

<end soap box rant>

If you work hard, if you out hustle the competition, if you put yourself out there, if you help others, if you're more persistent, if you're not afraid; you will succeed, and nothing will be able to stop you. So don't be afraid, meet new people, help others, ask the hard questions -- you will be more successful in whatever you're trying. We only get one lap around this track in life, so try to make it as good/fun/romantic/indulgent as you can.

Off to bed...

Follow me @jonmkee on Twitter, connect with me on Linked In, and hunt me down on any of the other social networking channels. And if you're an SMC-er, definitely come say hello if you see me at the next event.

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