Five Key Philosophies to Having a Successful Career

By Jennifer Cranford, Partner

Successful career

As one of the newest partners at Kernutt Stokes, I recently reflected on some of the key notions that I’ve learned throughout my career. Here are five philosophies that helped guide my work style and helped me become a better leader.

1. Accept compliments graciously and give them often.

Sometimes it may feel awkward to accept praise or a compliment but do so graciously as this can be a good way to boost your confidence. This is especially important early in your career as compliments may come from someone who could be a pivotal role model or mentor as you develop your professional path. Equally important is to give compliments as well. Offer them often and be genuine in your praise.

2. Celebrate your successes and recognize your mistakes.

Take time to celebrate your success – you’ve worked hard and earned it. It’s also important to recognize your mistakes but don’t dwell on them. We are all human, we all make mistakes and sometimes they can lead to your greatest learning experiences. Just as you want to reflect on what helped you be successful, reflecting on what led to mistakes can help prevent them from happening again. Remember to keep everything in perspective too; sometimes we may stress or overreact to mistakes and other issues that may not actually be that big of a deal or will be a thing of the past tomorrow.

3. Everyone is the new person at some point.

We were all the new person on the job when we first started working or got started in our career and most of us probably had some nerves and jitters in the beginning. Remember to show grace when working with new staff or clients. They aren’t going to be as up to speed as you are, they may have lots of questions – sometimes asking the same question multiple times, may take longer to do a task, etc. but being patient and understanding will go a long way. This is especially key if new employees are learning in a virtual environment right now; most of us were able to learn and train with someone right next to us, guiding the way whereas some people have to train remotely right now, and it isn’t always as effective.

4. It’s ok to ask.

I worked with a wonderful woman who supported me from the beginning of our working relationship. I haven’t forgotten the biggest – and my favorite – piece of advice from her: It doesn’t ever hurt to ask. The worst outcome is hearing no, which leaves you where you started, and at least you know the answer. The best outcome is hearing “yes.” I have been pleasantly surprised with the results over the years! This can be used in your professional and personal life. I use it frequently. It helps me exude confidence and articulate what it is I need or want in a given situation. Knowing what you want doesn’t mean you’re demanding, it means you’re motivated.

5. We have two eyes, two ears and one mouth.

This final one comes from a wise soul – we all have two eyes, two ears and one mouth so only one-fifth of our communication approach should be talking. Remember to watch and listen to others. Actively listen and stop thinking about how you are going to respond while the other person is talking. And don’t forget to ask engaging questions.

Of course, there are many other factors that help lead to a successful career, but these philosophies are important to keep in mind. Most successful people don’t just rely on their technical skills, but other intangible skills like these as well.