Ask experienced entrepreneurs about the keys to success and one of the most common pieces of advice will be “stay the course.” By that they mean sticking to your plan through all the ups and downs.
But no road goes straight forever, and sooner or later there comes a time when you have to move in a different direction to get where you want to go. That’s why programmer, writer and entrepreneur Derek Sivers considers “stay the course” to be good advice only up to a certain point.
In a recent blog he mused that when you come to a turning point in your career, staying the course could point you in the wrong direction. Early on, Sivers suggests saying “yes” to everything to enhance your chances of success. Try a lot of different things and meet as many people as you can because you never know which connection might lead to your big break.
Once you hit paydirt, it’s time to change strategies and focus on the one thing that’s really working for you. Perhaps you’ve developed a knack for writing code. Or maybe you have a talent for putting teams together. Whatever your skill, give it all you’ve got. Once you achieve success in that area, abundant opportunities will come your way.
Achieving success means you’ve now reached your first destination. Instead of resting on your laurels, Sivers recommends figuring out where to go next. This could involve going deeper along your current path and developing even more expertise. Or it could mean moving in a completely different direction. Either way, it’s time to switch strategies again.
Before doing so, however, Sivers highly recommends reading What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There. Written by Marshall Goldsmith, a renowned executive coach, the book helps successful people avoid getting stuck in their own success.
Learning What to Stop Doing
According to Goldsmith, success means continuing to grow and develop, not resting on past successes. Yet, successful people often engage in all sorts of behaviors that can keep them from moving to the next level. For example:
Overconfidence in your abilities
Taking on too much risk
Overcommitting to too many ventures
Taking too much credit for your own work
Not giving others enough credit for theirs
Intentionally withholding information as a means of control
It’s not always easy to see these traits in yourself, says Sivers. But self-examination is a critical step any time you change directions.
We set up Ideator so people can get helpful feedback from others during career turning points. If you’re looking at changing strategies, now might be a good time to log on and get a discussion thread going.
In the meantime, we love these words of wisdom from Goldsmith’s book:
“Often, successful leaders don’t need to learn what to do to continue their success. Instead, they need to learn what to stop”
“And, successful people become great leaders when they learn to shift the focus from themselves to others.”
Great advice for us all!