Yes, that is me on a mountain in Grand Teton National Park. We recently vacationed there and Yellowstone National Park. When my wife Celest and I reached the top of the mountain, I celebrated my success and then reflected on the two things that got me there professionally. The first was exposure. I was fortunate in my career to get exposed to different people, places and professions. Exposure has two dimensions: mental and physical. There is a big difference between the two: Mental exposure allowed me to see things; physical exposure allowed people to see me. Both gave me perspective; however, perspective, whether it is yours or someone else’s, alone isn’t enough for success. That’s when immersion—the second part of the formula—kicks in because immersion gives you the understanding of what is required to be successful.
To gain understanding, I had to roll up my sleeves and get involved. Doing so gave me the first-hand experience to know what was really going on and the obstacles that needed to be overcome. Immersion wasn’t easy. With every new opportunity/adventure, I always reached that “What in the hell have I gotten myself into?” point and start wondering if I can make it. For example, we walked down the mountain. We reached a very rocky and steep part. I slipped and that “WTH?” thought came to mind. (We had never walked down a mountain like that before.) For some reason unbeknownst to me, I looked ahead and saw Glenn and his wife Lisa in front of us. (We went with them.) Seeing them gave me the confidence that Celest and I would make it. We did and looked back in celebration when we got to the bottom. (Insert mountain picture with Celest here.)
As you reflect on your career, I want you to think about the exposure you are getting. To that point, I’ve always said that the number one way you can tell if you have a supportive boss is by the exposure she gives you. Specifically, people have to see you in order for you to get greater opportunities. Second, if you are at the “WTH?” moment where you have immerged yourself and are feeling you can’t do it, look forward at the people who have made it to get you through it.
In closing, my success formula is not a complicated equation. Follow it and you will also find yourself standing on top of mountains.