Life Lessons Learned On The Path to My Dream Job

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Russell, Eli, and Erin.

By: Russell Houghtaling, @digital_russ

I have my dream job.

But what does that matter to you?

Most of my path to this point has been fortune and favor, not the hashtag-grindnado. I got very lucky. Here are some things I learned along the way that may help you take full advantage when Lady Luck saunters by your cube.

1. Work on Your Driving, Not Just Your Horsepower

I am blessed to be a moderately talented guy, who stumbled into web and graphic design in high school. I spent the first 10 years of my career out-talenting my problem. If my job was a race, I simply had a faster car, mashed the gas and outran my workload.

If you grow in your career, you won’t be able to out-pace the challenges that come your way on raw talent. Whether it takes 10 years, 10 months, or 10 days, one day you will get caught, and passed by your workload.

So you have to become a better driver. Improving your driving means knowing when to be in what gear (work-life balance), taking corners at the right angle (plan, then execute), staying in your lane (know when to say “no”), and lots more.

Metaphor aside — you have to work on how you work.

2. Get a Killer Pit Crew

I don’t know much about racing, but I have seen Disney Pixar’s Cars. In the opening scene, Lightning McQueen, a brash young star full of talent but no humility, skips tires at a pit stop
 and ends up tying a race he would have won if he had properly relied on his team.

Eventually, Lightning learns to trust his pit crew, and they deliver in spectacular fashion, getting him exactly what he needs to win.

You need a pit crew, too. A group of people surrounding and supporting you as you race toward success.

Your pit crew should include people who know more than you (mentors) both in and outside of your organization. It should also feature those with less knowledge and experience, which leads me to point three.

3. Fill Up Others

Your tank isn’t the only one that matters. Getting where you’re going isn’t much fun if you get there all alone. So spend intentional time filling up others.

Not only is investing in others the right thing to do, it feels good and it improves your entire industry ecosystem. When you invest in others, you will “lose” some time in the immediate. In my career, the return of time well-spent with others have proven again
 and again to be a worthwhile investment.

As Anne Frank wrote in her diary while living in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands, “No one has ever become poor by giving.” (though J.K. Rowling is trying to be the first)

I don’t know if you’ll find your dream job, as I have. I hope you do. And I hope this three simple tips filled up your tank, even if by just a little, today.