Identifying the right people

A Critical Success Factor Endorsed by 80% of LinkedIn Professionals A career lesson I learnt from a bike crash

As I picked myself up from the asphalt, I realised why 80% of professionals on LinkedIn agree this one factor is critical for career success. I paused my Garmin, examined my bike for damage and checked for any bodily injuries. Trust me, every cyclist can relate to that order of events after a “non-hospital” crash. My solid helmet prevented a trip to the hospital after a rookie mistake saw me slam the right side of my head on the tarmac. I shivered at the sight of the engraved marks on the helmet. Thankfully, I suffered only minor bruises on my knee and shoulder.

Despite the chaotic and unfriendly vehicular traffic, I always enjoy cycling in Freetown during my holiday visits. The fantastic group of young cyclists who are always on hand to ride with me give me the courage to dare the treacherous conditions on Freetown roads. The captain organises the group based on riders’ dexterity and experience. He is always looking out for my safety, pointing out road hazards, shouting at unscrupulous motorists and making sure experienced riders flank me along busy roads. I enjoy rides of more than 100KMs because of this team around me. But, disaster struck during the last ride of my January holiday trip. “Never cross your front wheel against the front rider’s back wheel”. I paid the price with a crash for not adhering to this important, unspoken rule of group cycling. An inexperienced rider slowed down immediately after overtaking me. I saw the impact coming, but was helpless to avoid it. The thumping sound of my 86Kg frame hitting the tarmac drew attention and sympathy from pedestrians. After going through the post-fall ritual, I reflected on why and how the crash happened. I concluded that the crash would not have happened if the group captain had been present. “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”–Steve Jobs “Who you know” than “what you know” may be more important for your career growth than you think. “Almost 80 percent of professionals consider professional networking to be important to career success,”– according to a 2017 online LinkedIn survey of almost 16,000 members from 17 countries.

“70 percent of people in 2016 were hired at a company where they had a connection,” – according to a June 2017 LinkedIn publication.

I have found that a vital component of your network is the team you build to support your career growth and success. And in my experience, you need the following team players. I call it you MC3 (emcee cube)

1) Mentor

You need someone more experienced to walk “alongside” you, being a sounding board for your thoughts and questions. A mentor will provide varying and new perspectives from his superior experience. “Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.” – John Crosby

2) Cheerleader

When you go through an unavoidable period of self-doubt, you need reassurance from a trusted ally. “Sometimes you’ve got to believe in someone else’s belief in you until your belief kicks in.”– Les Brown

3) Critic

You cannot grow without rejection because it unconsciously pushes you to discover your limit. In 2018, Dragon’s Den investors labelled their idea ‘pasta le disaster’. Three years later, Alessandro Savelli, Chris Rennoldson, and Finn Lagun sold their business for GBP 40,000,000, according to a Sky News report.

4) Coach

As the captain of my cycling group rides, a career coach will help you avoid crashes and push you to go the distance in your career. In my experience, having a career coach is vital to accelerating your career growth. I believe the meeting of my coach in 2014 changed my career trajectory. He painted a vivid picture of the CFO I wanted to become, and he guided me on a clear roadmap of how to get there. Our interactions helped me avoid some common career pitfalls, showed me how to leverage my strengths and identified a career development plan. Are you looking for a career coach? Find a specialist in your field of interest who likely shares your goals. Like in my Freetown rides, the cycling group captain can direct and guide the group to ensure the safest ride possible; it is up to the riders to pedal their bikes through hills and hazards on the road. A coach will guide, challenge and motivate, but it is up to you to take charge and act to achieve your career growth objectives.

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