Those seven simple words have been engrained into my head ever since I set foot on my college campus. I realized at a young age that I had been blessed with academic intelligence; however, it wasn't until entering college that I realized intelligence will only get you so far...after that, effort and dedication take over. All throughout high school, I was able to breeze by simply on my laurels. Upon receiving my first “F” in my freshman year of college, I was faced with a tough choice: continue on trying to squeak by with minimal effort, or put my nose to the grindstone and get to work...I wisely chose the latter.
If you take a look into the background of the most successful businessmen and women in America, their drive and desire to succeed is what allowed them to get to where they are today. Don't get me wrong, higher education is a very worthwhile goal to strive after. But having a degree does not guarantee success or riches; what it does, however, is show a potential employer that you have the dedication and desire to succeed. When I am interviewing someone that wants to come work for me, I spend 4 to 5 minutes looking at their resume, and then lay it aside. Anyone can make themselves look good on paper; what you say to me and how you interact says more than any mindless statistic. The age old adage of “actions speak louder than words” holds true to this day.
In the sports world, they call it the “it” factor. NFL coaches look for those intangible characteristics, the leadership factors necessary to lead an NFL team into battle and bring home the title. In the business world, the same “it” factor is strongly desired and sought after. I credit the United States military for giving me that “it” factor. After college, I spent a number of years leading troops into combat, a place where the smallest mistake can get you or your best friend killed. Through months of backbreaking training, even the most stubborn of troops is transformed. Integrity, excellence and commitment are words used very often in our society, but to a U.S. Military member, they are not just words; they are a code to live by, an ethos sworn into the very core of each and every proud soldier, airman, marine and sailor. The ability to carry those same character traits over into your daily tasks will allow you to rise above and succeed in every task you take on.
My grandfather gave me some of the best advice I've ever been given when I left for college: “Whether you are a C.E.O or a trash collector, you do everything you can to be the best at what you do.” When I joined my company, I joined with absolutely zero experience in this business; I was as new as new could be. What I lacked in experience, however, I made up with a strong desire to be the best at what I do. And that is something I find more necessary than any degree or certification...I can teach you how to do this job; I cannot teach you how to have the heart, the drive, and the desire to be the best.
Not everyone is cut out for corporate America, and there's nothing wrong with that. Others believe that spending 4 years in undergraduate and 2 years in graduate school make you a guaranteed successful manager; that, too, is a fallacy. The one tried and true factor in being successful is an innate desire, a drive, to be the absolute best at what you do. I may not be the smartest, most talented individual in my career field, and I'm fine with that. But when I wake up in the morning and come to the office, one thing I know without a doubt is that I'm going to do everything in my power to be better than anyone else there.
Special thanks to Matt for this great guest submission. Any questions you may have for Matt just leave in the comments.
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