7 Tips to Success: Don't Just Lean In, Get In. June 17 2015

When I first decided I wanted to finish my undergrad degree, I didn't tell anyone. When you're the one carrying the football, you want to get as far down the field as you can. For me, I wanted to keep it to myself because I didn't want to get slammed with work from disgruntled co-workers. That worked for a while until the day came when I had to say in front of everyone, "I know because I'm in business school."

Maybe in high school you made a 5-year plan and then set goals for the next 10 years, but after the class ended, you may have left the list in your composition book. It's time to get the list back out or start a new one and write down these 7 points to help you become successful and reach your goals...

1. State Your Goals Going back to school or starting a new career can be a daunting task, let alone trying to make the decision to dedicate the time and discipline yourself to focus and finish. Sometimes it's about financing and at other times it's because you don't know who you are because you haven't made a plan. You can accomplish a lot if you write down what you envision and start working on the required steps that will take you there. 

2. Define Who You Are At my job one day, I overheard a great piece of stock information that I knew a lot about. We were studying it in school and someone was asking why it was a bad deal. I couldn't resist so I blurted out, "It's an OTC (penny stock) and they don't have any financing." Everyone looked at the manager who was supposed to say that and he nodded and looked at me and said, "That's right." The next question came from his colleague, another manager who inquisitively looked at me and asked, "Well how did you know?" The problem was, I never told anyone that I was back in school. I think I was a little embarrassed because I hadn't finished my undergrad requirements, but I answered, "I know because I'm in business school and we just studied that company in my finance class." What I didn't realize was that there was nothing to be embarrassed about. I had been hiding out for so long, I didn't realize that at times, we should step up to the plate.

3. Get Back to Work and Learn Humility In stepping up and sometimes staying behind, I'm reminded of a church sermon I heard once where the pastor said God does things behind the scenes, so He can promote you publicly. Look at Moses who as a baby was hidden right in the house of the Egyptians and he grew up to become a great leader. Look at Joseph who was hidden in a pit while his gifts grew and he became a great leader. Look at David who was ostracized by his family - and yet, he was anointed to become king and then sent back to clean the animals. What? Yeah, there's a lot of sheep stuff to shovel and that happens in life, too. You'll go a lot further if you can stay humble and remember the small stuff! Zechariah 4:10 reads, "Don't despise the day of small beginnings."

4. Master Your Trait The church sermons were a reminder that sometimes things are kept quiet so you can master them. I often thought about David when he had to master how to aim a sling shot and he practiced what he knew until he was put on the spot and killed Goliath with one shot. While I was studying at night, on trains, on weekends, during lunch, etc., it wasn't until I graduated and got into a certain grad school class that it clicked, that I too, might have to step up to the plate. I had a great professor who is the dean of the department and one day I complained because he'd made us set up mock conference calls, we had to do marketing presentations and after months of grueling through this process where I rallied the team, he only gave us all a 90.5 as a grade. When I asked about the lower grade, the professor said that we hadn't "mastered the material." That stuck with me, not because I didn't think I mastered it, but because it was a team grade and we had some who lagged behind, but that's part of a corporate team environment that you have to manage in order to achieve great success. 

5. Offer Support  When I had to take the leadership helm with my classmates, I did so because I was tired of waiting on them to call me and email me, so I gave them all assignments and made them report back their information or risk forfeiting their grade. I knew they didn't want to step up because they didn't want to take charge of all the work. I was reminded of Sheryl Sandberg's book, Lean In, about rallying teams to make them successful through empowerment and work delegation, so I held them all accountable. While I would never see myself as a leader, I didn't want to delay the intense workload we had ahead of us. The problem was, this wasn't a leadership class, so we got a lower grade based on a few classmates who lagged behind. That's part of life and it's part of business. 

6. Don't be Afraid to Fail What matters in your own life is what you are good at and what you are committed to accomplishing. If it's going back to school, then look for the classes you want to take and then don't be afraid to step up to the plate. If it's about starting a new business, you have to research the area you want to work in and learn or master it inside and out. You should know what will make it work and areas where it might fail. For years I used to read Investor's 'Leaders and Success' articles because I wanted to know how successful people achieved their goals and how they failed. Surprisingly, they all failed at some point, but it's the comeback that makes a business stronger. If you're afraid to get in the water, don't enter a boat race!

7. Master it Through Mistakes You have to learn how to fail in order to learn what works. Maybe that's why David was sent back with the sheep and Joseph was kept in the pit for so long, it's about mastering what you want to become, making it your best and then going forward. You may have times when it fails, but get back in there. Success includes failure and you have to recognize that failing just lets you know what mistakes not to make next time! When I think about that 90.5, I'm reminded that I'm in the master's program and I'm achieving my goal. I went from not wanting to say who I was and not knowing my potential to rallying my team to push our grade higher - all without me realizing how much we could accomplish. A 90.5 is still an 'A' and pushing them helped me step up to my own plate.

In your own life, write your vision, set your goals, and don't be afraid to make the commitment. At times, it will require that you pull your team together - and delegate, so step up to the plate and do just that. It can help you to see a clear vision and accomplish what you want to achieve. Also seek out strong leaders on your team and put them to work for you. When you see slackers, put them to work, too and hold them accountable. You can always trim the sails later. Stay focused and finish strong. You've gotta' get your feet wet to win this race!


About the Author: Kassandra Hall is a gifted and successful writer who has been writing freelance for the past few years. She is currently attending graduate school for business and finance. With her focus on leadership and entrepreneurship, her writing has been used in various publications, ebooks, articles, blogs, tutorials, and websites. She has also worked through Elance, Freelancer, oDesk and other writing sites. She is the featured writer on the website, God-Driven-Designs. She works as a writer, blogger, and business mentor, where she focuses on process writing, entrepreneurship and ways to help women in business and small business owners with their marketing efforts. In her free time, she loves exercise, healthy eating, traveling, writing and working on inspirational prayer cards.