If I knew now what I knew then, I probably would have been more successful, earlier. By Madhavi Arsoor (Sr. Project Manager & Author of The LEAD IT)
About 15 years back, I came to the United States to pursue the American dream: To make a difference and lead a life that matters.
When I entered this country, I knew nothing about the world. But America has provided me with an opportunity to interact, work and learn from people across the globe. Over all these years of my professional career in Information Technology, I have gained a unique perspective – briefly listed as the seven nuggets of wisdom below.

1. Live in the Present

In the early years of my career, I constantly used to think and plan about how to be “better”; how to get a better job, better pay, a better company, a better location, a better role.
I thought of this as being ambitious and aiming high. But this attitude actually caused me to miss opportunities that could have been great because I was always focused on the next thing instead of the task at hand.
I was not living in the present and I was always running around what was not yet a reality. I learned that living in the moment gives one more clarity, focus and engagement with what they are doing which will eventually lead them to where they need to go.
My experience has taught me to savor every step of your journey. Success is not a destination, it is a journey.

2. Nurture Relationships

In my experience, I learnt that building and nurturing relationships with others is one of the most important factor to your career success. You need great mentors, sponsors, advisors and also friends in your network that support you throughout your journey. And learning to deal with and work with different kinds of people is the first step.
I also learned there are several reasons that could influence how a person interacts with others in the workplace – their background, their culture, their beliefs and also their communication skills.
If you aim to grow into a leadership role, learn about different types of people personalities and how you can influence and motivate them as a leader for the mutual benefit.

3. Seek Feedback

During the first few years of my career, I was hesitant to ask for feedback from my superiors/boss and co-workers. Mainly because I didn’t know how to approach them for feedback. I was also hesitant to share my long-term career goals with them as I assumed that they would not be interested in helping me grow.
My experience taught me that feedback is a valuable thing to ask and to give. By asking for feedback, you will get the opportunity to see yourself from the eyes of others. This sure will be different from how you see yourself. You will know what areas to improve and where you can excel. Your job is to fill the gap, if any, so others perceive you the way you perceive yourself.  
As a leader, always try to give valuable feedback to your subordinates and your peers.

4. Plan the Specifics

Another mistake I make in my career early was to fail to nail down the details of how to achieve my long term career goals. I went by the opportunities that came by, hoping to one day I will reach the top. I was naïve.
Experience has taught me that planning is as important as aspiration. Planning specifics gives us a clear focus and direction and also brings into lights alternative paths or options to reach our end goal. You may have to revise your plan from time to time, but not having a plan will hurt you in the long run.

5. Adapt an Open Mindset

During my college days, I used to compare myself to others. I would also judge others of their performance and their success. Experience has taught me that everyone’s journey is different and what I define as success might not be how others see success.
Everyone has a different way of life. As I accepted people for who they are, it opened up my mind and led to see different perspectives of life.
This open mindset has helped me think out of the box, build great relationships and have a greater perspective of one’s being.

6. Discover What Makes You Unique

I always thought I knew about myself. Having been working in IT for over a decade and dealing with different kinds of people from all over the world, I now realize that I did not know about myself well when I started my career path. It’s taken time to truly know myself.
Before, I had never spent time to think about which of my unique skills would help me make my mark.
I would strongly recommend you to take time to know yourself — your strengths and your weaknesses. Think about your skills. What are you good at? What can you do to become the best? Adopt a growth mindset, invest in yourself to grow both professionally and personally.
Had I known these earlier in my career, I’m sure I would have reached greater levels of success. What other nuggets of wisdom do you have? Do share with us in the comments below.

About the guest blogger: Madhavi Arsoor is an experienced IT professional and leader who has held various roles in IT and in Business. She specializes in business process improvement strategies in addition to IT Project and Program Management disciplines. She’s passionate about building leaders and bringing out the best in them. She blogs at www.TheLeadIT.com and provides tools, tips, techniques, current trends and insights from industry experts to help others take their career into IT Leadership.