On my way into work a few weeks ago, I listened to a Bon Appétit podcast that got me thinking about how to achieve success in a way that hadn’t occurred to me before. Adam Rappaport, the magazine’s editor-in-chief and frequent podcast host, spoke with New York Times food columnist, Melissa Clark, about how she got to be a successful food writer.
Her story isn’t particularly magical. In a nutshell, Clark rose through the ranks by saying yes and being on time, strongly implying that you don’t need to be the smartest guy or gal in the room—you just need to be the one who’s eager and can follow through.
As I pondered this idea, I came across another similar sentiment, this one from Ray Kroc, the businessman who’s largely credited with making McDonald’s into what it is today:
The two most important requirements for major success are: first, being in the right place at the right time, and second, doing something about it.
Both Clark’s and Kroc’s career advice is encouraging in its inclusiveness. Anyone can have a successful career if they’re motivated and self-disciplined. It’s not about IQ, or how many degrees a person has, or even innate brilliance. It’s really just about taking the bull by the horns.
Of course, I’d argue that it takes a certain amount of intelligence to recognize the importance of realizing you’re in the right place at the right time and making it work to your advantage, but still, the point is that you don’t need to be ridiculously skilled or talented to succeed in this world. You’ve got to be a go-getter.
In his article on soft skills, Muse career coach Antonio Neves noting the importance of being accountable, touches upon a similar theme. When you’re accountable, you keep agreements you make, and that, he says is “the core of integrity and it builds trust.”
So, stop fixating on how talented you are (or aren’t) compared to everyone else and focus on how you can get ahead by embracing opportunity and delivering results. The next time a team member asks for help collaborating on a project, say yes and follow through. When you find yourself in a meeting with another department, and you can see a way to lend a hand, offer yourself and get the job done. And no matter what field you’re in, honor deadlines.
It doesn’t take a full-blown genius to capitalize on this professional behavior, so the win is yours for the taking—if you’re around to take it.